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“The Holiday Surprise”
by Annie, Cole, Jeslyn, Liz, Shira
by Liz, Lisa, Tiff, Mark
“Where are you Going?” by The Dave Matthews Band
“Let it Snow” by Frank Sinatra
“Santa Baby” by Marilyn Monroe
“Thinking About Forever” by P.O.D.
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” by Tori Amos
“Christmas Day” by Dido
has been the sole topic of conversation for the past two weeks.
more she thought about it, the more this day called
Christmas stood out in Maria’s mind.
She had become accustomed to recalling memories without any
feelings. But all the
memories up until now had lacked any striking qualities and were in fact,
fairly bland. Something about
these new memories was different though – saturated somehow – colored
with an unidentifiable presence.
Maria drifted off to sleep, her mind churned yet again over the so-called
feelings everyone said she was supposed to have.
But as the point of consciousness came and went, other, deeper
memories began surfacing again.
stared up at the mottled red sky from where she laid back in the cool
grass. A warm northern breeze
swept over the knoll, causing the water’s edge to dance lightly in
irregular patterns. She
looked up at the three moons hovering in the sky and wondered what in the
hell was taking Rath so long.
figured I'd find you here,” Rath stated as he confidently climaxed the
knoll and plodded down the leeward side, looking like some kind of Adonis
with his shirt half undone and his hair dishevelled.
leaned towards the water and dragged a finger through its shimmering
golden surface, her back
turned to him.
When did you figure that
smirked and plopped down next to her on the soft grass.
“Hey,” he said softly, tipping her chin up between his bulky
fingers. “I'm sorry I'm
late. You know how things get
at the palace on this day…” He trailed and waved a hand towards the
sky where four planets were visible.
He then continued in a deep, dramatic voice, “This day of the
great planetary alignment.”
rolled her eyes. “Doesn't
it mean anything to you that our ancestors have been celebrating this day
for eons and –”
saw enough celebrating at the palace.
You know what Vilandra got me? A blue tunic.” The irritation in
his voice was thick.
smirked. “You hate blue.”
what did you get me?” Calypso asked, feigning indifference.
smirked. “It's a
surprise for later,” he added.
that surprise. Well,
you know, you give me that surprise every night, so what else did you get
rolled his eyes, grasping her hand and brushing a kiss against the back of
her fingers. “It's a
different kind of surprise,” he promised.
sighed in defeat, “Alright, well in that case.” She stood stoically
and walked over to a stone bench a few feet away.
Lifting a small box off of it, she stared down at the last gift she
was ever going to give him, at least in this life.
up behind her, Rath ran his hands down her arms.
turned suddenly, tears pooling in her eyes as she held up the long, narrow
box between them. Instead of
taking the box, Rath watched the tears cascade down her rosy cheeks. He didn't need her to tell him what was wrong, he knew.
away her tears, Calypso pushed the box into his hands.
“Here, just open it.”
the box, Rath pushed the lid off and stared down at a beautifully crafted,
gold runed and sapphire-bejewelled dagger.
is a dagger of the ancients, Cam, I –”
remembered how much you used to obsess about every new dagger your father
would get when we were little,” Calypso explained, the light coming back
into her eyes.
could you possibly afford this? Zan's too cheap to be paying you this
much,” Rath speculated. He
carefully took it out of the box and turned it over in his hand, its
weight comfortable in his grasp. The
light from the setting sun hit the jewels embedded in the metal and
bounced off, creating tiny reflections of light.
shrugged. “My father helped
me out some. He's getting
paid major credits for some big project Zan's administration is putting
together. Highly classified he says,” she added.
the mentioning of the project, Rath wondered how much she knew about it. He had planned to tell her, but the timing was not right, it
was never right, it would never be right.
head snapped up to Calypso's questioning eyes and he smiled as if nothing
was wrong. Placing the dagger
back in the box, he set it back down on the bench and took Calypso into
his arms. “I love it,” he
said simply, then leaned down to look at her at eye level.
“But not nearly as much as I love you.
Always remember that. No
matter what happens, I will always love you.”
Maria awoke, those last words echoed through her mind, and for a brief
moment she remembered what they were and what they meant.
But as quickly as they had come, they were gone.
eyes filled with wetness, although she had no idea why, and when she
opened them, Michael was staring right at her, concern on his face.
get people things they like for Christmas, right?” Maria asked,
and although the random question confused him, he nodded.
thought for a moment, remembering something from her dream, a golden lake.
Maybe it was even a feeling - something happened when she gave
something to Rath.
memory was just out of her reach, but there was something else that, for
some odd reason, she remembered crystal clear.
don't like blue, right?”
really,” Michael replied slowly, warily.
nodded. “Okay,” she said
simply, but knew a lot more then she was letting on.
She knew exactly what she wanted for Christmas.
looked around at his surroundings. It
was late afternoon; the building was empty except for him and his cohort,
and there wasn’t a customer in sight.
Another boring Wednesday. He
was glad to have a job, glad to have legitimate money coming in, but
working at the discount video store was not his idea of a good time.
He shook his head and leaned against the counter.
Things were really dead today and there was only so much you could
do to keep yourself busy before boredom takes over.
what movie do you want to watch next?” Kyle motioned to the back of the
store, in hopes of brightening the day.
rolled his eyes. “I am sick
of movies. We have been
working here forever now and I never thought I would say this, but I hate
on,” Kyle goaded, wanting to cheer him up.
“How about we watch ‘Lilo and Stitch’? I saw previews for it
and it looks pretty funny.”
looked at him sceptically. “What’s
a little alien... um...
yeah, crashes in Hawaii... and
uh yeah...” Kyle said, throwing Max the cover-jacket.
huh?” he said, looking it over.
cartoon character on the cover made Max smile and give a half chuckle.
“Aliens. I’m sick of the
real thing, might as well throw this in.”
loaded the tape into one of the VCR’s, and it began whirring to
agreed. “Nothing like
turned up the volume and leaned back on the counter.
the movie began to roll, the door chimed and a tall, obese man walked
through the door. Max quickly
turned down the volume.
afternoon, Mr. Roberts,”
Max said happily as the familiar face dropped a video in the bin.
we can help you find today?” Kyle added, smiling slyly because he knew
this customer was a regular of the ‘adult’ section.
no thanks. I’m fine,” he
answered awkwardly as he inched his way down the aisle to the back of the
door jingled again and two children rushed in just in front of their
as soon as we start a good movie we get a rush,” Kyle complained.
is hardly a rush,” Max stated observantly.
you wait, your Majesty. Just
you wait,” Kyle said, sidestepping Max and heading to the other side of
the counter, where he began sorting videos to put back on the shelves.
they could say another word, a slew of people came in and the once-dead
video store was now packed to the brim with people of all ages.
Max and Kyle took their places at the counter and began to work the
everything all right, Mr. Roberts?”
Kyle asked as he scanned the movie jackets.
just fine, thanks.”
that will be $4.50,” Kyle said, Mr. Roberts handing him a five.
punched the keyboard, the cash drawer popped open, and he grabbed two
quarters, handing them to Mr. Roberts.
your change. ‘Busty Biker
Babes Caught on Tape’ and ‘Dancing Dirty’ are both due back on
Friday before midnight.”
laughed to himself, the elderly couple in line shuddered as he read the
names aloud. Mr.
Roberts quickly walked out the door.
returned video bin was overflowing now and videos were ending up on the
Max, why don’t you start putting some videos away, I can handle checking
everyone else out.”
Max said, loading up a cart. Exiting
the counter, he started pushing it down the aisle when he felt a tug on
me, mister?” the little boy asked.
looked down to see a young boy with huge, hopeful blue eyes.
Max knelt down so he was face to face with the child.
is no more Stitches left, ya' got any in there?”
me check,” Max said as he got up and started looking though his cart
full of recently returned videos.
you like ‘Lilo and Stitch’, huh?”
I saw part of it at my friend Bobby’s house and it was real funny.”
the boy said, laughing to himself. “Aliens
are cool! What’s your name?”
name is Max, what’s yours?”
and I am this many years old,” he said as he held up his right hand and
his left thumb.
you’re growing up fast!”
“Yup, I am a big boy.
I go to kindergarten now. How
old are you?”
boy started counting on his fingers, and got stuck at ten twice before
you’re old!” the boy said in awe.
had finished looking though the cart, and there weren’t any Lilo and
Stitch videos. He knelt back
down beside the boy and said, “Sorry kiddo, but we don’t have any more
the boy said dejectedly, his shoulders dropping.
his mother shouted. “I have
been looking everywhere for you! Big boys don’t run off!”
mom, I was asking him if he had any more Stitches!” the boy compensated.
buts mister, you don’t run off like that.” She looked back up at Max. “I’m sorry he was bothering you,” the woman offered
“Really, it’s no problem,”
Max said as he smiled at the boy. Seeing
the boy reminded him of his own son, wherever he may be. He hoped that
someday he and Liz would have a child just like that.
on Alex, you are going to have to pick out another movie,” his mother
I don’ wanna ‘nother movie! I wanna watch Stitches,” the boy cried
as he slowly sulked off behind his mother.
Alex,” Max said, suddenly remembering.
“We have one behind the desk.
See, it’s playing on the TV up there.”
watched Alex’s face brighten as he saw the screens above.
can have that one if you like.”
turned to his mother eagerly, bouncing up and down and grabbing a hold of
her leg. “Can we mom?”
looked at Max with a smile. “Sure.”
follow me up here and I’ll check you out,” Max said, leading the
mother and her two children to the counter. Max stopped the movie that was
playing and threw it in the rewinder.
He took the mother’s card and scanned the jacket of the movie.
and don’t forget this one,” the woman said as she took a movie out of
her daughter’s hands and gave it to Max.
It was an old cartoon that brought back good memories of his
love Scooby Doo, this one is a classic,” Max said with a laugh, scanning
heard the rewinder stop, grabbed Lilo and Stitch, and slipped it into its
total is $4.50.”
handed her the change and movies.
are due back on Friday before midnight.
Have a nice day. Take
“Let’s go,” the mother
said as she pushed the kids towards the exit.
little boy stopped and looked up at Max, who was now looking out the
window thoughtfully. Alex
once again tugged on the end of his shirt.
Max looked down and gave the boy a genuine smile.
you, Max,” Alex said as he gave him a hug and quickly ran to catch up to
Max watched the family walk away, he looked around the video store, and
found Kyle leaning against the counter once again, another cart of movies
full and waiting to be restocked.
was a rush.” Kyle said. “And
I see that you gave away our movie!”
had to. You can’t say no to
your weakness then,” Kyle laughed.
stood in silence for a while, not really knowing what to say.
They had been working together for a few weeks now, but there were
still moments when they had nothing to talk about.
Kyle felt the need to break the silence.
did you get a present for Liz yet?”
well I’ve had it on my mind for a while now so it wasn’t too hard.”
I figure I owe her so much, you know? Just for coming with me and giving
up her life, college, family.
Actually I feel that way towards all of you,” Max said quietly, still
staring out the window.
what did you get her?” Kyle asked again, wanting to get away from the
brooding touchy-feely stuff.
tell.” Max said with a gleam in his eye, “Very top secret, Area-51
on. You really think I would
wavered. For some reason he
wanted something to share with Kyle.
He had given Kyle a bad rap since he found him and Liz in bed
together, and in the end he had been all wrong.
Kyle always helped whom he could, when he could, and he had given
up his life and his father to go on the run with people he had little in
“No, you probably will tell someone and then that
someone will tell someone else…”
honor,” Kyle said, putting three fingers in the air.
fine,” Max laughed. “Even
though I know you are no scout.”
I love secrets - well good secrets that is,” Kyle said as he settled
himself on the counter closer to Max.
when we were on the run, after the carnival, I got word to Liz’s parents
to send a package to a P.O. box outside Fresno.” At Kyle’s pointed
look he added, “I was safe about it.”
rolled his eyes. Leave it up to a former king to tell his followers not to
do something and then turn around and do it himself. He swallowed any
biting remarks and asked, “A package?”
more like an envelope.”
of pictures of her family, mom, dad, grandma Claudia and others.
Well with those I made an album, her family at the beginning and
our family at the end.”
Kyle said nodding in approval. “Good idea.”
I thought so. I wasn’t sure
I was going to be able to pull it off, but I did.
And I got her a new journal – leather.
It’s a little like her old one, except this one is purple, with a
am sure she’ll love it.”
Max asked hopefully.
I wish I could come up with something that good,” Kyle shrugged,
scratching his chin.
no one in particular, I was just saying I would like to have ideas like
yours,” Kyle said, covering his tracks. No one needed to know he had a
crush on Serena.
Max said as he watched Kyle squirm. “So,
anyway, want to bet on what Mr. Roberts returned?”
not fair, we both know it was, you know…”
but was it one of his regular favourites or a new release?” Max
thought for a bit. “I bet
it was one of the new ones.”
way,” Max challenged. “I
bet it was his favourite, ‘Hole in One.’”
you’ve got a bet. I know
for a fact he checked that out last week, there is no way he checked it
out again two days ago, especially with our wide porn selection,” Kyle
do you want to bet?” Max asked, walking towards the bin.
How about supper?”
got it.” Max said as he dug into the bin and pulled out the video and
showed it to Kyle. “I guess
you owe me supper!”
that man is seriously nuts.” Kyle said as he looked at the movie in
dismay. “With all our porn
he chooses that one.”
you didn’t like this one I take it?” Max asked innocently as he
scanned it back into the system.
go there Max!” Kyle started turning red.
me, I don’t want to go there,” Max said, laughing.
two fell into sorting videos and there was a lull in the conversation.
Kyle tapped his foot impatiently. As
much as he liked Max, sometimes he just needed to get away from him.
be right back,” Kyle said, grabbing an armload of videos from the
do know that you shelve porn almost six times every shift,” Max
commented, looking up from the group of videos that had just been
shrugged his shoulders. “What
can I say? I’m a self-respecting red-blooded male.
It’s not only my duty, but also my right.
Buddha states it’s perfectly natural to love women!”
his eyes, Max turned his attention to the pile of videos in front of him.
“Hamlet,” he muttered aloud, tossing it into the box marked
Lampoon’s Vacation,” he muttered again, an eyebrow rising.
That one ended up in the comedy bin, but it took a little thought.
stopped reading. “Kyle,”
he called out, but it was too late.
The door to the back section of the store was already closed, which
meant that Kyle would be occupied for at least a good fifteen minutes.
The bell on the store’s front door chimed. Dropping the rest of the videos into the ‘to be sorted’
pile, Max looked up at the approaching customer.
Max,” Serena said as she walked towards him.
videos,” Max answered, a baffled look on his face.
“I thought you were supposed to be at work?”
she trailed off. “I
were fired,” he finished for her.
Serena insisted, accentuating the point by sticking up her index finger.
“Just for the record, I quit.”
Max asked, almost taking on the tone of a parent scolding a child.
have heard of the hypothesis that the customer is always right,” Serena
countered, a completely serious look on her face.
nodded his head in a silent compliance.
I managed to prove that they were indeed not always right, like 1-0=1
except for extremely large values of 1,” Serena continued to explain.
“Anyways, after I brought it not only to the customers attention
but the to the manager’s as well, he was polite enough to accept my
resignation. Especially since
my scientific curiosity had been cured.”
terms,” Max requested, beginning to rub his left temple.
a woman started arguing with me over fifteen cents that she thought I owed
her, which I didn’t,” Serena justified.
“After about ten minutes of explaining exactly what tax
was, I told her where she could shove her fifteen lousy cents and kindly
offered to draw her an atomically correct diagram to aid her in the
process. Therefore, the manager and I decided that my talents would be
of better use elsewhere, perhaps in the medical imaging field.”
let out a groan of frustration.
“Do you know what this means?”
“No more blue light specials?”
Serena said off the top of her head.
threw a disapproving look over the counter at her.
both hands up in a mock defensive manner, Serena took a step back. “Don’t worry.
I saw a help wanted sign in the coffee house down the block. I’d be a natural, mostly because I consume more coffee than
any normal human being can handle. Oh,
that, and there’s no tax,” she smiled stately.
Max gave up. “Okay.”
where is Kyle,” Serena asked, happy that Max was no longer angry with
mischievous smile crossed Max’s lips.
“He’s in the back,” he told her, pointing over to the door
marked ‘Adults 18 and Over Only.’
“You can go see him if you want.”
she replied with a smirk, heading off towards the back.
Max said, stopping Serena in her tracks.
“And could you take this to him?” he asked, handing her a
Serena agreed, not looking down to see the video in her hand.
Quickly, she made her way to the other end of the store.
Creaking the door open, she was met the slight sound of moaning and
- golf carts? That was all it
took for her to glance down at the video in her hand.
“’Hot Hunnies’,” she muttered.
“I’ll be damned.”
that, she threw the door open.
“I seriously doubt Buddha would approve of your participation in
this kind of vulgar indulgence.”
Kyle dropped the videos he was holding, scattering them across the floor.
“Wha – wha - what are you doing here,” he stuttered.
I would stop by to see you,” Serena explained.
“But it looks like you are already occupied.”
your information, I’m working,” Kyle countered, trying to save a
when did your job include previewing porn,” Serena questioned, seeing
Max’s wide grin. She shut the door behind her.
laughed nervously. “It’s
a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.”
took a quick glance at the TV monitor.
“Yup, dirty just about covers it… just about.”
you supposed to be working or something,” Kyle retorted, reaching around
Serena to shut off the television.
looked up into his eyes. “What
can I say, they didn’t like my use of colorful adjectives to improve
customer relations, I guess they can’t handle real adult
of Kyle’s eyebrows raised on its own accord.
“Is that so?”
Serena started to lean in closer to Kyle.
His gaze fell on her lips, taking in how full and soft they looked.
Oh, how he wanted to kiss her.
then, there was a sudden knock on the door.
“Not that I really want to know, but what are you two doing in
there,” Max’s voice filtered through. “I heard moaning, and, was
“Nothing now,” Kyle
groaned, as he saw Max walk away, a wide grin on his face.
couldn’t help but laugh out loud.
so funny,” Kyle asked, only slightly amused.
Serena said, shaking her head.
“What are you doing after work?”
shrugged his shoulders. “Nothing
getting coffee,” she informed him as she moved towards the door. “At the diner.”
Kyle agreed, a dazed look on his face.
“I’ll see you at four?”
it is,” Serena confirmed. “I
better let you get back to your job.
Try not to get too absorbed in your work,” she teased, walking
“Wait, we who?” he said, but she had
stood there, stunned for a moment, and then he remembered the scattered
videos on the floor.
is a dead man!”
strode into the small store with one purpose and one purpose only. She needed to find -
she stopped, an almost Grinch-like smile spreading across her lips.
you are,” She said slyly to herself.
She bolted to the stand, politely waiting for each person to take
their turn, a fake smile or two displayed to a few others waiting beside
screw this,” she muttered, pushing her way through the mass of people. She needed that globe, but there were a variety - which to
choose? She picked up a box and read the label above the sample picture
and sat it back down, going over to another one.
sneered. “Snowmen are too
overrated. It's three balls
of snow and a carrot for crying out loud.” Angels? Did she really want
Angels in a house filled with little devil hybrids? She thought not.
Finally, she spotted what she was looking for – a reindeer with a
red nose, standing in the middle of its glass dome. She snatched it up, almost greedily, looking at the little
old woman picking through the left over globes.
old woman looked up at her and started to smile, until Isabel snapped,
“This one’s mine. It's
perfect. I’m sorry but Christmas is first-come first-served,
lady.” She said with a nod, grabbing the box and stalking off. She held the box close and smiled with satisfaction as looked
down at it. She was so
enthralled that she nearly collided with Jesse.
Jesse!” She exclaimed, her face breaking out into an irresistible,
insanely large grin. “I
that’s great, Isabel,” Jesse replied, looking not so excited as he
looked past her to the old lady who was shaking her walker at him.
“Sorry ma'am, she just really loves Rudolph,” he said with a
pretended not to notice and took the globe out of its box, shaking it
upside down, watching the fake snow fall on the reindeer.
“Isn’t it great honey?” She said, watching the artificial
snow fall. Standing in the middle of the aisle, someone accidentally
jostled into her and she nearly lost her grip on the globe.
After securing it in her hands she turned to them, snapping,
“Watch where you’re going! Haven’t you heard of the words, ‘excuse
me’? It is Christmas after all!”
turned back to Jesse, “You know, you would honestly think that people
could be considerate at least one time of the year.
Don't you think?” Jesse nodded, without really hearing.
“I mean it’s Christmas! Christmas is a time for giving and
compassion and not who can get to the checkout first and get home before
the game.” She ranted.
looked up. “Do you think
we're going to miss the game?”
glared at him. “You think
this is funny? It's a travesty the way people...
people...” She trailed, anger and irritation showing.
calm down.” Jesse soothed then carefully placed the globe back into its
box and gave it to Isabel to hold onto, as he already had way too much in
his own hands. “Here's your
reindeer, if it will make you feel better.
Now let's just get out of here,” He said, glancing around.
“People are getting hostile in here,” He added, nearly losing
his hold on all of the accessories she had purchased to accent their home
during the holiday season.
instantly snapped back into Nazi-mode, pulling out her planner.
the doorways leading to Max and Liz’s room and the front door are all
missing mistletoe. That is
just not acceptable. Do you
remember which store I got it from?” Isabel stood poised with her pen
over her planner, which was filled with lists of things to do while out
shopping. It nearly gave Jesse a headache to see that only a few were
shook his head no. “Sorry,
Isabel. You picked those up
in New York, remember?”
I know but you’d figure in a city like Boston they’d have some store
that was year-round Christmas. Not
to have one would be unacceptable! Mistletoe is a must you know.
Although in our house kissing partners are pretty much quarantined
with yellow tape and a “Do Not Enter” sign, it's still a necessity.”
sighed. “Alright, alright
Isabel. We'll go find another
store with mistletoe.” He looked down at his watch.
“We don't have to meet up with the others for another twenty
eyes narrowed. “You are
looking at this from entirely the wrong perspective.” She said with a
shake of her head.
wrong perspective or the perspective that isn't yours?” Jesse asked
glared. “What's that
supposed to mean!”
sighed and then shook his head. “Nothing...
this Christmas has just been a little more stressful then I would
have hoped,” he explained.
I'm sorry Jesse that this Christmas isn't everything you wanted it to
be!” She snapped. “How do
you think I feel being away from my home, on the other side of the country
from my home! Away from my family! On Christmas!”
that they were now the center of attention in the store, Isabel took a
step closer to him and whispered, “But you know I actually thought that
being away from my family wouldn't be so horrible because I had you.”
She backed up a step. “I
guess I was wrong.”
that, Isabel turned and walked from the store, leaving a very guilty Jesse
behind; a guilty Jesse who knew now exactly what to get Isabel for
a thrift shop near Jesse’s apartment, Liz surveyed the store for
anything that might be a good gift. She
was originally going to spend the day with Max, since he had a day off
work, but the video store called him in at the last minute.
Now, she was shopping with Michael and Maria, and was a little
surprised that Michael had actually asked her to join him and Maria in
some Christmas shopping. She
guessed he was trying to get some kind of emotional reaction out of Maria
by taking her Christmas shopping.
stood; a thoughtful grin on her face while she gazed at some items in the
display case beneath the checkout counter.
Watches, bracelets, earrings, and other knick-knacks reminded her
of the others, but she couldn’t decide which ones to get.
She looked around for Michael or Maria to get a second opinion. Michael was looking through a rack of clothes, obviously
bored by the selection. There
was a look of constant annoyance on his face as well she noticed, and it
bugged her to no end. She
knew Maria would not suddenly express emotion like she used to no matter
how badly Michael wanted it to happen.
stood motionless, her face stoic while she stared at a display of socks.
Liz thought that Maria looked about as bored as Michael felt.
She decided to suggest they try another shop, but by the time she
reached Maria, she didn’t get the chance.
Michael was staring at her friend incredulously and Liz wanted to
know why he was seemingly so offended by Maria’s behavior.
He had been caring for Maria since after whatever he had done to
her, and absently Liz assumed his feelings were unconditional, the way
Max’s were for her. That
day in the store, she realized she could be wrong.
he gasped at Maria, “what kind of Christmas present is that?”
think I need socks,” Maria told him absently, shrugging as if she
didn’t know what she really needed.
“We’re not shopping for ourselves,”
Michael pointed out, but before he could continue Liz interrupted him, “Have
you found anything for the others, Michael? Do you have any idea what
Isabel might want? I’m not sure what to get her.”
either,” he admitted sheepishly. Glancing
back at Maria, he said insistently, “Look at something else, okay?
Something for someone other than yourself.”
am I supposed to look for?” Maria said, looking up at him.
for something you think would make, um, Michael happy, for example.” Liz
looked at her blankly; she still had no idea what Liz meant.
I’ll give you an example. I
think I’m going to find Max a sweater.
It’s warm, which is good for the winter time when it’s freezing
outside, and whenever he wears it he’ll be happy because it reminds him
of me. You know, he’ll
smile and be nice to people because he’s in a good mood, which is part
of what Christmas is all about. Do
you understand at all?”
shrugged again and walked over to the display case under the checkout
counter. Michael looked like
he was going to follow her, but Liz grabbed one of his arms, stopping him
at least for a moment.
please take it easy on her. Any
changes she makes won’t be instantaneous, you realize that.”
glanced at her for a moment and took a deep breath.
Then he walked over to Maria and Liz followed, interested to hear
what he would say next. He
leaned down and peered into the display case.
After a moment, he spoke to Maria again.
about that silver bracelet for Isabel?” he suggested.
I bet it’s an antique,” Michael replied defensively.
useless junk,” Maria spoke a little louder than before.
don’t know, I liked that bracelet too,” Liz spoke up, trying to help.
blinked a few times, but said nothing.
you really think Isabel will like it, Michael?” Liz said to him after a
few seconds of silence.
think so,” Michael replied hesitantly, “at least it’s not socks or a
ask,” Michael insisted and said to Maria impatiently, “Do you see
have no idea what to look for,” she said in that same unemotional tone
she had adopted since that fateful night they stopped at the strip club.
at Michael, Liz noticed he was hurt by Maria’s words.
Talking to Maria was like talking to a brick wall and she did not
like it one bit. Liz didn’t
see right away that it was Maria that was causing Michael all this pain,
which was the worst part of the whole situation.
Maria spoke again while she glanced around the store. “I just don’t
know. I have no idea what
will make Michael happy. What
is happy anyway?”
eyes narrowed in anger and Liz gave him a pleading look to calm down.
Maria hurt him again and did not even come close to realizing it.
Liz wanted him to stay, so she tried thinking of something to say
that might calm him down. Maria
needed him even if she did unknowingly hurt him with her words.
she didn’t mean it like that I’m sure.
She’s just -”
it,” he snapped.
Liz could speak again he stormed out of the shop, the bell ringing extra
loudly as the door swung shut behind him.
She didn’t like seeing Michael unhappy because that usually meant
Max and Isabel would become unhappy.
Heck, he had already ruined her happy mood.
just stood there, as if she didn’t even notice that Michael had left the
store. A stoic expression
occupied Maria’s face once more. Liz
sighed unhappily. She had a
bad feeling that Maria might never get better.
The scary part was, that it was as if she had already lost her
other best friend. Maria wasn’t a person – not then. She was practically a statue.
As Kyle was approaching the quaint Boston diner, he
could see Serena’s form through one of the frosty windows.
Even at a distance, she was the most beautiful thing he had ever
seen. This was the second
time he’d seen her at a diner. Remembering back to Yosemite, he hoped
this time would go a little smoother.
door chimed as he walked in, and Serena must have seen him coming because
she turned around just as he was walking up to her.
“Sit,” Serena said, motioning across from her at the
empty space in their booth. She
looked at her watch. 4:02,
“Thanks,” Kyle said,
taking off his coat and sitting down across from her.
“Earlier you said we were having coffee and I didn’t know if
you meant just you and me or if Max or someone else was coming as well.”
Kyle,” Serena said, smiling at him, handing
him a menu. “We
– as in you and I - are just having some coffee.
Unless you want me to invite Max and the others.”
“Nah, that’s okay,”
Kyle said with a smirk. He
was going to get even with Max some way, somehow.
The waitress making the rounds came to the table,
looking at the two expectantly. “What can I get ya'?”
“Refill, Java, black,”
Serena stated efficiently.
Kyle looked over the menu, the waitress waiting
impatiently. “I’ll have a double cappuccino please,”
and the waitress nodded, walking off dutifully.
“Strong stuff, sure you’re up to it?”
“Well, if I’m not going to get any sleep tonight,
I’d better do it with style, right?”
watched as Max trudged up the walkway, his boots gathering the newly
fallen snow. It was
truly the first white Christmas she had ever had.
Sure, snow fell in Roswell, but it melted too fast to be
appreciated. In Boston, it stayed, lasted longer, lived awhile.
At first, it was white, pure, and glistening, covering the ground
with a delightful innocence. After
a bit of time, it would age, get grey, and slowly turn into water in order
to keep the cycle going.
almost like Max and I,” she thought to herself, waiting for him to come
in. In the beginning,
there was a genuine innocence to the bond they shared.
It was meant to be explored and cherished at the same time.
Then, life took over, muddying the brilliance and melting the
simplicity. But time
brought it back again; recycling what it had to know was a good thing.
Hell, not once, but twice.
“Would this have to be a third,” she wondered aloud as the door
Max called out. “Are
she called back, slowing rising from the warm spot she had created on the
couch in front of the window. “I’m
in the living room.”
dropped his boots by the door, hanging his coat up there as well.
With quick movement, he fully appeared in the archway to the living
room. His entire face
lit up when he saw her. “I
couldn’t help but giggle a bit.
“You only had an eight-hour shift,” she mocked, standing up and
moving over to him so she could wrap herself in his arms.
too happy to oblige, Max enveloped her.
“Still doesn’t mean that I can’t miss my wife.
Besides, am I to assume you haven’t missed me at all?”
her eyes, knowing that she had been caught, Liz refused to look at him.
She knew that if she did, there would be nothing than that damn
sexy smirk gracing his lips. With that one look, she might feel the temptation to
forget about telling him her secret.
It was always too easy to melt into him.
But he needed to know.
have something to tell you,” Liz whispered, starting to pull back a bit.
could feel the change in her mood, but thought he might be able to push
the dampening spirit away with a bit more coaxing.
“You didn’t miss me,” he feigned disappointment, also
wrapping his arms tighter around her waist.
second I’m not with you I miss you,” she told him seriously.
the tone in her voice was enough to push all joking aside.
“Liz,” he said softly, gently running a finger under her chin
in an attempt to make her meet his gaze.
sit down,” Liz suggested, taking a step back.
yet,” Max asked as he gently, but firmly, gripped her arms.
Running his hands up and down their length, he could feel her
tradition,” he whispered, pointing to the mistletoe hanging above them.
pushed on her toes, meeting his lips in a sweet kiss, tender and
reassuring. It gave her
the last bit of strength that she needed to tell him her findings.
the shift in her mood yet again, Max pulled away, putting the slightest
bit of distance between them. “What
do you have to tell me?” he asked softly, still holding her close,
realizing that his fingers had wound themselves into her hair during the
a deep breath, Liz readied herself.
“My cells,” she told him.
nodded his head. “You’re
changing, I know.”
shook her head no. “I
think I always was one of you.”
For a second, it was all Max could do.
“What do you mean ‘always was’?
How is that possible? You
had a human mother. She
gave birth to you.”
away, Liz walked over to the couch and sat down, resting her head in her
hands. “I don’t
know Max. I’m not
sure about anything right now, but I know that this feels like the truth.
Serena thinks it’s possible.
Actually, she thinks it’s the truth too.”
moved to sit down next to her.
“How long have you suspected this, Liz? And since when have you
discussed this with Serena and not me?”
“Since my birthday,” she
tested my cells with the kit Hanley gave me.
I think he suspected all along.”
rolled though his veins as Max took a quick glance around the house,
looking for the shape shifter.
“Suspected or knew? God,
when I find him…”
Liz said calmly. “He’s
not here. He went…
God, I don’t know where, but he knew I had to figure it out for myself.
That I had to tell you by myself.”
why?” Max questioned, trying to hide the hurt in his voice. It had taken her three months to tell him about this,
and he needed to know why.
looked up, meeting his eyes. She
knew it pained him that she hadn’t said anything sooner, but she had a
good reason. “I
couldn’t hurt you Max. Destiny
has robbed you of so much already that I didn’t want to get our hopes
up. Because, if it were
true, it meant that everything that has happened to us never had to.
Everything we suffered was pointless, because in the end, we should
have known the truth. Hell,
we did know it. We knew
what we felt for each other, and we still let things break us apart.”
watched the tears slip from her eyes as the rocky ride their relationship
suffered rolled though their memories. They lost a lot to be together, but
gained so much just because they were.
“But why are you telling me this now?”
Max asked, hurt.
couldn’t ruin your Christmas,” Liz said quietly, looking at the floor.
Serena? What –” Max said, but stopped when Liz started wiping her
so scared,” Liz choked out, the sob she was holding back escaping at the
softened and cupped her face in his hands.
“Liz, I love you so much.
Nothing is going to change that.
Whether you were sent from some planet to be with me or born here
and we found each other, it doesn’t matter.
There is only one truth: we were made for each other.
Fate or destiny, or whatever was so generous by giving you to me
– it’s gift that I don’t deserve.”
bit her lip, clenching it tight as his words healed her, melted her fears.
The cycle could continue, and they were going to face it together
as one. “Oh Max,”
she gasped, crushing her lips to his.
“I… love…you… so… much,” she muttered between each
I called the house meeting for 4:30 pm and look, you two are the
only ones who decided to show some Christmas spirit and show up.” Isabel
ranted, stalking back and forth while Max and Liz sat obediently on the
glared at the both of them. “Just
you two! This is pathetic!”
chanced to speak. “Well,
you know, it's only 4:31.”
stopped pacing right in front of them.
“Really, 4:31?” Isabel asked, and then turned on Liz.
“Liz, what time did I call the house meeting?”
Liz replied meekly.
and what time did you say it was, Max?” Isabel asked, her irritation
becoming blatantly apparent.
well, 4:32 now.” Max replied.
would make everyone now...?” Isabel trailed, and Michael suddenly came
through the door.
Max and Liz finished in unison.
glanced from Max, to Liz, then to Isabel and could almost feel the
tension. “Sorry,” he said
with a shrug. “Maria
couldn’t decide between socks or junk for Christmas.”
collapsed onto the couch and raised his hands in defeat.
screeched in frustration, while Michael turned to Liz.
glanced away from Isabel. “She
went with Kyle and Serena to rent some movies.”
also should be back by now!” Isabel added, just before Jesse came in. Then from night to day, Isabel's demeanour changed.
Have you been Christmas shopping?” Isabel asked excitedly, sitting on
the edge of her seat as Jesse came to sit next to her.
he only shrugged slightly. “No,
I was just taking care of some business.” He turned to Max.
“I went ahead and picked up the tree, so don't worry about it.”
glared over at Max. “You should have had that tree a week ago.”
Max replied and Michael tried not to laugh, but Isabel heard him anyway.
since you all find this so amusing, let's get on with Christmas business.
First - jobs!” Isabel clapped her hands together excitedly while
suicide mission is a more accurate description,” Michael quipped, but
upon receiving a glare from Isabel, quieted.
you can be first,” Isabel smarted and held up her list.
“You are in charge of,” she paused for dramatic effect.
Michael. ‘No', is not in
your vocabulary today,” Isabel countered.
scoffed, “Well, that eliminates half of what he usually says.”
I am not going to spend the next eight hours in the kitchen cooking! Not
to mention the shopping I'll have to do!” Michael stood, shaking his
walked over to him, her hands put together in a pleading stance,
“Please, you know your way around a kitchen, you know what needs to be
done, and - you don't have to do any shopping! I already did it all and
the ham is already cooking!”
was about to decline again, when Max spoke up.
“You know, Michael, she does have a point.
None of the rest of us... really
know how to cook,” he stated.
nodded in agreement. “Yeah,
I once tried to make biscuits and...” she trailed.
“Well, let's just say that the Crashdown's stove never fully
turned to Jesse. “What's your excuse?”
was living with my mom up until I married Isabel, need I say more?”
Jesse asked and Michael sighed.
I'll do it. Just let me call
work and let them know I won't be able to come in,” Michael replied as
he started towards the phone.
made a disagreeable face, “You were going to work on Christmas Eve?”
nodded with a shrug, “People drink like crazy on Christmas Eve. It's like one of the 10 busiest days of the year.”
that's pleasant,” Isabel commented, then turned to Max and Liz.
“Alright, on with the show.
Max, you, will be hanging up those boxes.” She pointed to about a
dozen boxes in the corner. “Of
lights! All around the apartment and around the tree.
Red box upstairs, blue downstairs, yellow outside, red on the tree.
And Liz you'll decorate the tree with all of the pretty decorations
in the big brown box.”
smiled, “That sounds like fun.”
laughed out loud, “Yeah until you do it wrong and she makes you do it
over, and over, and over –“
enough Michael,” Isabel chimed diligently.
turned back to the phone, “Right.”
turned around to face Jesse. “Honey,
you're going to come with me to finish some Christmas shopping.”
eyes widened. “Oh, you
mean, leaving? Like leaving the apartment?”
nodded. “Well, yeah, we
can't really shop here, Jesse.”
yeah, I was just waiting...on something.”
and Liz gave each other a suspicious look, while Isabel was just confused.
“Waiting on what?”
a phone call, from...the firm...about a, uh, case.” Jesse
don't they call your cell phone?” Isabel asked.
lifted his cell phone and then nodded in defeat.
“Yeah, yeah they do.”
alright then, let's go.” Isabel said with a smile, and then turned to
Max and Liz as she went for her purse.
“Tell Kyle and Serena that they're in charge of cleaning this
place up, and I guess I’ll have Maria help with decorations, or with you
cooking?” Isabel looked to Michael.
nodded. “That's fine.”
well, we're off.”
“All hail the Christmas Nazi,”
Michael said quietly, raising his hand and waving bye.
did you say?” Isabel asked, stopping in her tracks at the door.
have fun Christmas shopping,” Michael said cunningly.
Jesse and Isabel left the apartment, a collective sigh of relief came from
and Serena popped their heads out of the kitchen, with Maria close behind.
curled with Liz by the fire, marvelling in the path that had brought them
to this point. She was
his wife, and was always meant to be so.
No Christmas present ever stood out in his mind more than this.
Liz was his gift, the only one he would ever need.
could sense what Max was thinking as he held her close by the fire. Resting her head against his chest, she angled it so
her forehead came in contact with the bare skin of his neck, and she
breathed in his scent. It
was rich and smoky with the Christmas Eve fire he’d built and everything
around her was buzzing with an energy that made her feel alive and
destined to be with him like this.
to disrupt the moment, but desperately needing to know something, Liz
softly cleared her throat. “Are
we going to tell them,” she asked.
nuzzled his nose to her cheek.
wait a few days. Till after
back to look him in the eyes, Liz’s face gave away what she was going to
ask next, “Why?”
have to admit that this is going to be a bit shocking,” Max explained. “Let’s have a quiet Christmas for once.”
then, a loud clamour of pots and pans echoed from the kitchen, followed by
Isabel’s voice in a disapproving tone.
“That’s not how you make stuffing!”
started to laugh. “Well,
as quiet as we can get with Isabel on a mission.”
as he nodded his head in agreement, Max couldn’t help the wave of worry
that washed over him.
you’ve noticed it too. That
Isabel seems to be -”
Nazi-like this year,” Liz finished his thought.
“She just wants everything to be nice for everyone.”
like flawless,” Max corrected.
“It just has me a bit worried.”
too,” Liz confessed. “I
was hoping after we found Jesse that things would get better for her. But lately, she seems to be more stressed about
seem to be more distant than before,” Max mentioned, pulling Liz close
again. “Like they
don’t know how they feel about each other anymore.”
Liz shook her head.
“They spent months apart, Max.
A lot of things happened between the time we left Roswell and
showed up here. They’re
different. It’s going
to take time for them to get used to each other again.”
began tracing her jaw line with little kisses.
“You didn’t change during the time you spent in Florida,” he
pointed out sweetly. “When
you came back, you were still the love of my life, just as you were when
her eyes, Liz could feel her pulse quicken.
“I wasn’t running for my life then.”
Turning to face him, she took his face in-between both her hands.
“I was running from it.”
distance separating them was too much.
The instant those words left her mouth, he crossed it, taking her
lips with his own. Exploring,
they took the time to slowly memorize each other with this kiss.
Breaking apart for air, Max leaned his forehead against hers.
“God, I love you.”
lips curled into a grin. She
could never get enough of hearing him say that.
“I love you too.”
it bad to feel like this?” Max asked out of the blue.
what?” Liz asked.
he told her. “Just
about happier than I have ever been in my life.”
heaven’s sake no. Why
would you think that?”
of everything going on,” Max explained.
“Isabel and Jesse being distant.
Michael worrying himself sick about Maria.
Maria’s not worrying about anything.
I should feel guilty, but I don’t.”
don’t you dare start,” Liz scolded.
“Things might not be great, but we deserve to be happy Max.
Our relationship is stronger than it’s ever been.
That is nothing to feel guilty about.
I know that Maria would be screaming at you if she heard you
talking this way. Or at
least the old Maria would.”
chuckled at the thought. “Yeah
she would.” Glancing down
at Liz, Max noticed the change in her expression.
“We’ll get her back, Liz.
hope so,” Liz sighed, moving to get up off the floor.
“I just feel so useless.
There’s nothing I can do to help her, or Michael for that matter. He seems so lost without her.”
to his feet, Max brought his arms around her waist.
“I know. At
least she’s been trying harder lately.”
nodded. “We don’t
know if that is because she wants to or thinks she has to.”
Liz allowed Max to pull her to him.
“I miss her so much.”
brought a hand up, running it though her long silken locks, trying to
soothe her, to offer comfort. “We’ll
get though this Liz. All
of us, together. We have to,
it’s the only way.”
dammit all to hell!” Michael cursed after cutting into his finger while
was the last straw.
raised the knife, as if to stab the blasted inferior carrot -
Isabel shouted and the knife fell from Michael's hand and clattered onto
the cutting board. She was
back - and enough was enough.
glared at Isabel from across the kitchen.
“You suckered me into doing this whole stupid Christmas dinner
and now you won't leave me alone to do it!” He yelled, and a few curious
ears perked up in the living room. “I'm
done!” he yelled and attempted to push past Isabel and out of the
kitchen, but Isabel raised a hand to stop him.
let me give you a mental image, alright?” Isabel said sweetly, before
her voice turned to venom, “Picture this: picture several broken
ornaments, sharp ones, just waiting for your feet tomorrow morning when
you roll out of bed, if you don't get your butt back in there and
do your job!”
eyes narrowed. “You
wouldn't break an ornament; it's against your nature or something,” he
raised an eyebrow. “I'll
have Kyle break them,” she countered smugly.
stared each other down, until Maria suddenly appeared beside Isabel. “Hey, Michael, can I help? They said you might need
it?” Maria asked. “Whatever
eyes widened. “Why, Maria,
what an excellent idea,” she said sweetly, then directed Maria at
Michael. Maria walked past
Michael, and Isabel smirked at him. “You
wouldn't want to deprive Maria of the chance to learn what it means to help
someone, would you?”
raised his hand and pointed a finger right at Isabel's nose.
“You...” he started.
evil,” he finished.
laughed, “Maybe, but you'll thank me, once everyone praises you for your
delicious cooking. I mean,
really Michael, why do you think I gave you this job?”
Now, get to work!” And with that, Isabel was gone.
turned towards Maria, who was munching on a carrot.
“Can you believe her?” he asked, as he stalked back to the
Maria shrugged. “She's the same way every year; I
would think you guys would be used to it by now,”
Michael agreed as he began chopping again, “But it's still just as
frustrating every year.”
sighed, “Well, I wouldn't know anything about that.”
you wouldn't, would you?” Michael bit out, as he nearly butchered the
a bowl of whipped frosting, Maria dragged two fingers into it, collecting
chocolate frosting onto them. “You're
not in a very good mood, are you?” she asked.
Christmas has never been one of my favorites,” Michael replied. “Last year we weren't even together.”
sighed. “In a way.”
is there anything I can do to put you in a, more tolerable mood? Maybe...
this...?” Maria trailed.
wh -” But Michael was interrupted by a handful of chocolate frosting
being spread across his face.
softly, slowly, Maria covered her mouth with her clean hand, as Michael
licked at the frosting around his lips.
see you haven't lost your sense of humor,” Michael commented.
shook her head. “No, I
don't think so, because you look...very funny.” She said and
couldn't escape another peal of laughter.
huh?” Michael asked as he came towards her, pinning her against the
counter as he reached his hand into the bowl behind her.
up at him, her features turned suddenly confused and she asked softly,
“Do you want to kiss me?” she asked, in a confused tone.
a moment, Michael stood still. He
did want to kiss her. He leaned down so that he was only a breath away
from doing so, then at the last possible second his hand came up and with
a devilish smirk he smeared her face in frosting, eliciting a gasp from
that's funny,” Michael stated, while Maria started licking at the sticky
hummed softly. “Tastes...”
Michael suggested, staring down at her rather intently. This almost felt normal.
eyes narrowed at him. “Why
are you looking at me like that?” She asked curiously.
now I want to kiss you.”
Maria simply said. “Okay,”
as she leaned up closer, her eyes falling closed as she had seen Liz and
slightly with a shake of his head, Michael gently kissed the corner of her
mouth, then backed away revealing -
standing at the doorway, unbeknownst to Michael and Maria.
cleared her throat to make herself known, and Michael and Maria jumped
Isabel said, eyeing both of the fudge-covered culprits.
“This looks productive.”
Serena remarked wryly, casting a sly glance at Kyle.
“I think we have our work cut out for us.”
at the entrance to the living room, Serena’s arms were overflowing with
wrapping paper, ribbon, tape, fake plastic bows, and little personal tags
– all the stuff Isabel had shoved at her before assigning the two to
“wrapping duty.” At the top of Kyle’s stack were a list of presents
sorted by person, item, wrapping paper and ribbon color, and the entire
column teetered and threatened to fall.
front of them lay piles of unwrapped presents Isabel had bought for
everyone. Liz had also asked
them to wrap her presents because she was busy with Maria and didn’t
have enough time to wrap.
amiss the piles on the floor, Serena dug into what looked like the ‘Max
& Liz’ pile. Kyle
randomly picked a package from another pile, and stared at it for a
“No wonder she wants us to wrap the presents,”
Kyle said dryly. “If
she had to do it, it would have to be perfect, and that would take
spied an oddly shaped bottle and picked it up.
He opened the bottle and sniffed it.
“Ugh. Not even good
are you talking about? Let me smell it,” Serena grabbed the bottle in
disbelief from him and sniffed it. “That’s
not that bad.” She sniffed again and began coughing.
“Okay, it’s bad. Who’s
glanced at the list. “Michael.”
voice dropped an octave. “Michael?”
shrugged, “Apparently he smells?” He took the bottle back from Serena
and proceeded to wrap the bottle in tissue paper and then drop it into one
of the pre-folded boxes that lined the edge of the carpeting.
Serena remarked, laughing slightly and shaking her head. “So, why is Isabel making everyone else do all the work?
Kyle carefully looked around him.
He got up and peered out the doorway leading to the living room.
On his way back he whispered, “She’s the Christmas Nazi.”
what?” Serena said, smiling.
Christmas Nazi,” Kyle repeated, whispering again, his eyes wide.
started laughing. “Why are
Kyle continued, still in a hushed voice.
He looked back at the doorway.
“Isabel is the Christmas Nazi.”
Christmas Nazi,” Serena nodded, rolling her eyes.
already said that. So, what does that mean?”
goes around, making sure we all have the perfect Christmas, and nothing
will get in her way, hell or high water.
I’ve been spared the last two years, but now…” He trailed
off, glancing nervously towards the door again.
Serena said, her eyes twinkling. “Isabel
went out for awhile, remember? She’s not going to attack you.”
no,” Kyle waved his hands around. “You
don’t understand.” His voice dropped to a whisper again and he leaned
in close. “She hears you
even when she’s not here.”
Serena leaned in to him also, struggling not to laugh.
“I don’t think she’s going to kill you for calling her the
you’re forgetting the part where she has super-human powers.”
that Serena went quiet. She
lowered her gaze and began fiddling with the ribbon on the floor.
“Yeah, I guess I did forget.”
sensed a change in mood and glanced over at Serena, watching her
carefully. She was so
beautiful, and smart, and… she was upset.
are you okay?”
wiped her eye hastily and smiled, still not looking at him.
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
you’re not,” Kyle said, rummaging around in the wrapping paper for a
second before saying, “Unfortunately, the only thing here for you to
blow your nose with is a snowman, a reindeer or some penguins.
I don’t recommend the snowman.
Your nose will get cold. The
reindeer have antlers. I
don’t think piercing your brain is a possibility.
Your only option is the penguins; however, if you stick them near
your nose, they may waddle around in it.”
started laughing. She shoved
him playfully with her hand, sniffing.
“You’re such a moron.”
grabbed her hand and immediately dove under it, his fingers going for her
sides. Serena began
screeching, trying to pull away from him.
will be no crying this close to Christmas!” he demanded, reaching around
and attacking her other side.
shrieked and fell to the ground, trying to get away from him.
“Kyle, stop! Stop it!” she said, between laughs.
rolled to get away from him and he rolled with her, attacking her sides,
under her arms, her stomach, the slippery wrapping paper underneath them
hindering her retreat.
something went crunch and they both stopped, panting for air.
no,” Kyle said, looking at the ornament that had fallen off the tree in
their tumble. He looked up
and noticed they were right under the tree…
right under the mistletoe.
He looked down at Serena, who was looking up at him.
He leaned down and gave her a soft peck.
Pulling back, he saw that she wasn’t resisting or vomiting, so
that was a good sign.
He leaned close again, and Serena leaned upwards, meeting him.
was, by far, the best Christmas present he could ever receive.
it was bright in here all of a sudden.
Like the sun decided to rise – instantly.
the hell was clapping? And yelling? And why?
Kyle buried his face into his pillow more, muttering “Go away!”
wanted to return to the warm arms of Brooke Burke. She was rubbing suntan
lotion on his back and his arms all the while, smiling seductively at him.
Then she was leaning in towards his face and he was leaning in towards
hers and -
the covers were thrown off him. He
feebly reached an arm back, searching for them to no avail.
“Kyle, it’s six-thirty. Up, up, up!” Fingers were trying
to pry open his eyes.
“No, go away!” came his
if you want to play that way.” His eyelids snapped open on their own
accord and a very annoyed Isabel came into focus in front of him, finger
pointed towards his face.
Isabel smiled. “It’s time
to open presents.” She waved her hand and Kyle’s eyelids drooped, but
yes,” he muttered. “The
Christmas Nazi is in full force.”
reached down and pinched his cheek. “For
that, you can be the proud Santa Claus today!”
eyes widened, suddenly awake. “What?”
disappeared out the door and returned with a Santa suit in hand.
you found it in your heart to be so late to open presents on Christmas
morning, you get to be Santa! Here,” she threw the costume at him.
“I’ll be back in five minutes to see if you’re ready to cater
to all the darling little children waiting for your presence.”
crack of dawn?” Kyle shouted. “You
woke me up at the crack of dawn to open presents?”
thought he could hear Serena laughing in the living room.
He was going to seriously maim her - in a good way.
have no idea how important it is to open presents on Christmas day,”
Isabel rambled. “It’s key
to get them in right away. Hurry
up, lest you spoil the entire holiday!”
groaned but sat up, putting the Santa suit on. He muttered to himself the
had been an eventful morning. Wrapping paper had been thrown around the
room, littering almost the entire area. In the midst of it all sat the
group, happy and relaxed for the first time in months. Even Maria seemed
to perk up a bit, feeding off of everyone else’s energies.
sighed and leaned into Max. She had gotten an album of pictures from him
and she couldn’t be happier to see her family, even if on paper. She
looked around at the rest of the group and saw that Serena and Kyle were
sitting awkwardly next to each other; Kyle was still in the Santa suit
that she was sure Michael wore last year. She had noticed that whenever
Kyle and Serena accidentally brushed up against one another, they flew
apart like oppositely poled magnets. It had been going on all morning and
Liz had stopped at one point and pointed to them with a nod of her head,
signalling Max. He had smiled and put his arm around her, kissing her
was sitting next to Michael absently fingering the wrapping paper on the
ground, apparently lost in her own world again. When Kyle as Santa had
handed her the gifts that everyone else had gotten her, she had just
smiled and accepted them, saying a soft “thank you.” Isabel and Jesse
were sitting on the couch – in fact Isabel was sitting straight up as if
she’d been shocked.
eyes filtered down to the presents that Isabel had received piled at her
feet. There were presents from everyone and she racked her brain trying to
figure out why she was one short. Suddenly it came to her.
didn’t you give Isabel anything?”
face immediately turned pink and he seemed to cave into himself, trying to
hide from Isabel’s stare.
I got her something. It’s just not quite ready yet,” he put an arm
around Isabel’s shoulder. She stayed rigid, her eyes blinking rapidly.
Suddenly she shot up and bolted out of the room.
went after her. “Isabel –“
I guess even the Christmas Nazi has feelings,” Michael said, watching
the two walk out of the room.
throughout the day, smells of cooking food wafted throughout the house.
Isabel had finally taken over in the kitchen halfway through the day when
she came in and saw Michael running around with a knife in his hand,
threatening rolling potatoes.
hurry it up Isabel,” Kyle called into the kitchen.
Then, glancing over the table, his eyes met Serena’s.
He saw them flicker for a moment, her gaze awkwardly finding
interest in her plate. “The
food will get cold,” he continued.
sweetie,” Jesse added. “I
think we have everything, come eat.”
head peeked out from around the corner.
“No we don’t,” she told them.
“I’m just finishing up the yams, and I am having a hell of a
time finding the Tabasco sauce.
Jesse, why don’t you start carving the ham?”
simply nodded his head as Isabel continued rushing about the kitchen. He knew that when she got like this, there was nothing
he could do to stop her. Isabel
wanted this to be the perfect Christmas, but it was lacking something.
Looking up at the clock, Jesse knew it would only be a matter of
moments before that something showed up - he hoped.
the hell is the Tabasco?” Isabel’s voice reverberated from the
dropped his head. “Ah,
yes,” he sighed. “And
the Christmas Nazi is back.”
stared at him, or in Michael’s mind, right through him.
“Nazi?” she asked blankly, looking for clarification.
started chuckling then laughing, looking over at Liz as he took her hand
beneath the table. “Isabel
sort of gets a little controlling around the holidays.
She always wants to have the perfect Christmas.”
snorted a bit. “Remember
last year and the Christmas Village?” he asked Maria, picturing her
dressed in the elf costume. The
memory of her frustration about his torments, the way her eyes flared each
time he gave her an order. What
he wouldn’t give to see just a sparkle of that in her face light up
again, even if it was with anger.
just watched him. She
could see the brief happiness on his face, and how it fell into sadness.
He glanced over at her.
The gambit of emotions ran though him as they stared at each other
for a second. Then
Max’s voice filtered through.
Liz and Maria as Santa’s elves, you being Santa,” he said, motioning
to Michael. “And you
as Candy Cane,” Max grinned ear to ear at Liz.
“Man, you in that outfit looked good enough to -”
head popped out of the kitchen again.
“I beg you not to finish that sentence,” she ordered.
“It would be too disturbing.”
as disturbing as whom my dad was dating at the time,” Kyle commented,
seeming a little green around the gills.
Isabel came out to the table, carrying two bottles of Tabasco sauce and
balancing a bowl of yams on her arm.
second that,” Isabel laughed slightly, moving to the far end of the
table. She was trying to be happy, to hide her disappointment
that Jesse didn’t get her anything for Christmas, but it was hard.
Right now, she couldn’t sit down next to him and maintain her
facade. After all the trouble
she had went through to get him the perfect gift.
who’s going to say grace?” Serena asked, looking across the table at
Kyle. He glanced up for
a moment, meeting her eyes. Then,
he turned his attention back to the empty plate resting in front of him. Kyle shrugged slightly, and Serena nodded, remembering he was
watched Isabel. He knew
she was upset, but it would only be a matter of time before it was all
right again, in fact even better than all right.
Still, he was waiting to hear what she wanted.
Isabel didn’t say a word, just avoided his gaze.
“I will,” Jesse said with a defeated sigh.
sat up straight, bringing his hands together and started a prayer. Everyone lowered their heads and held hands, Serena looking
up for a brief second to spy Kyle doing the same.
Jesse concluded, with pomp and circumstance.
“Alright, bring on that turkey!”
Kyle said, eager to sample all of Michael’s culinary work – at least
“Could you pass the mashed potatoes please,”
Serena spoke in Kyle’s direction, and he immediately grabbed them for
her. Her hand touched his as
passed the bowl across the table, and everyone noticed their awkward reaction.
“Iz, could I have some of the vegetables please,”
Max said kindly. “They
Isabel commented. “From
what I saw, those carrots didn’t go down without a fight.”
looked up at him, smiling. “Do I want to know
enjoy the dinner.”
silence fell over the group. Liz
sat next to Max, his hand still cradling hers, offering comfort, support. A smile crossed her lips as she realized that her
present this year was him; the knowledge that she was always meant to be
with him. With her free
hand, she grabbed her drink. “Here’s
to a Merry Christmas, and to a better new year,” Liz said, raising her
bit her lip, pushing back the tears that wanted to form.
She wasn’t going to give into them, no matter how much she wanted
to. Lifting her glass,
she allowed it to collide with Liz’s, then Max’s.
“Merry Christmas,” Max
Michael chimed in, practically ramming his glass against Isabel’s. “Great food, by the way, my compliments to the chef.”
rolled her eyes.
“Merry Christmas,” Maria
said, grabbing her glass and mimicking Michael.
hint of sincerity crept in Isabel’s smile.
looked around the table. She
could sense the tension between everyone, watching them as their eyes
avoided one another. She even
tried to understand it for a minute, but the comprehension was still
beyond her abilities. So she decided to follow Michael’s lead, to say
something nice. She thought
if she used the word ‘like’ in a sentence, perhaps it would make
things better. Or happier, as
Michael put it.
really like the rolled bread things.”
couldn’t help but laugh. Maria’s
comment just caught him so off guard.
For the entire dinner he had been feeling nervous and confused
about everything that was going on.
His life, the feelings he had for Serena, how the others were
compliment showed that she was trying.
They all were, and that one little comment summed it all up for
him. The simple things
were the most important. The
rest could all be figured out later.
laughter bubbled, slowly at first, but it grew, and a moment later
engulfed the entire table.
Maria smiled a little.
can you pass the potatoes?” Isabel asked, giving Michael a pointed look.
Michael glanced to the table and found the potato bowl, passing it
to Isabel with one hand and stuffing his face with the other.
Max gave him a slight kick under the table and when Michael looked
up, Max he motioned with his hand. He
had food on his face.
hastily wiped off the remnants of food from his chin with the back of his
hand and started stuffing food into his mouth once again.
screeched, “Michael, there aren’t any potatoes left!”
great,” Michael groaned under his breath.
“There are a lot of people here, you know, Isabel,” he said in
his regular voice. “We
probably ate them all.”
was silence on the other end. Tentatively,
Michael raised his head. Isabel
was giving him a seething look.
look at your plate.”
glanced to his plate and back up at Isabel.
is covering you plate?”
looked down again. “Food. Which I’m eating. So,
go back to your complaining about potatoes and let me eat my food in
Michael! You took half the bowl!”
are good for me. Gives me
strength to watch reruns of the hockey game after dinner.
By the way, did you add milk to them? I could use a calcium boost
stood up, bowl in hand. She
threw her napkin down with flair. “You
know what, is it too much to ask that every year you try just a little
bit to not be a complete and utter jackass? I mean, you still
haven’t paid me back for the gift I got for Maria last year.
stopped eating and looked up at her, then over at Maria.
why don’t you let me go and re-fill the bowl, okay? You sit down and
eat,” Jesse stood and touched his hand gently on her shoulder, offering
her comfort. Instantly,
But make sure it’s the white potatoes, not the sweet potatoes.
Oh, and make sure you don’t fill it completely, only to the
Jesse said gently, smiling softly. “I’ll
gave a weary smile and slowly sat down, letting out a sigh and avoiding
the gazes of the group while Jesse disappeared into the kitchen.
the doorbell rang. Isabel’s
head shot up and everyone else immediately stopped what they were doing
and sat stark still in their seats, except for Maria.
has everyone stopped eating?” she inquired, a puzzled look masking her
silenced her and nodded to Max, who had already stood up.
They looked at Isabel, whose face was full of fear.
Slowly, she swallowed and stood up.
She looked regal in her dress she’d bought just for this one
occasion of Christmas.
looked to each of them and then they proceeded to make their way to the
front door, where there were voices.
He had an intense feeling of déjà vu; this had only happened a
few months ago and again, like before, they were not prepared.
Max had tried to put that out of his mind, Jesse’s betrayal.
He would never do that again - Max was sure of it – but still
that fear lingered.
could hear Jesse talking and laughing with someone at the door and she
wondered briefly if that was the way he had acted when the FBI had shown
up at his “law school friend’s” doorstep only a short a time ago.
Her heart stopped in her throat and she tried swallowing, the
constriction of her throat making it hard.
she saw a flash of blonde hair and a pair of familiar blue eyes and all
the tension faded away.
Isabel gasped, rushing up to greet the woman, “Mom! What are you
stood up as well, a look of sheer disbelief on his face.
Michael remained standing by the table, but his eyes widened at the
sight of Diane Evans at Jesse’s front doorway.
Liz smiled at the woman, but looked at Max as if she was waiting to
see what he would do. Before
they left Roswell, Max had been staying at Michael’s apartment. A lot of time had passed since he had any quality time with
the woman who helped raise him.
and Kyle looked on with shocked and confused looks on their faces. Serena had yet to officially meet Diane Evans and Kyle really
only wanted to know why she had come instead of, say, his father.
He was envious as much as he was in shock.
sat next to Michael, almost unaware of what was happening around her.
She kept thinking about what Liz told her in the thrift shop.
That night she gained a fresh insight on what could make Michael
happy, but she didn’t know if she would be right.
evening a couple days ago, Michael took her to his work.
He said that night was karaoke night and she might be interested in
being there. She remembered
that she used to sing, but no longer knew why.
For most of the evening, she watched Michael work.
He was wearing a worn out black t-shirt with the word
‘Metallica’ written in white. She
knew that since the shirt was worn out he wore it a lot, which meant he
didn’t wear his others t-shirts as much.
One of the employees put a CD in the stereo they used before the
karaoke night began. Michael
grinned when the music started while he fixed a drink for one of the
patrons. When his back was
turned from the customers, she was sure he was mouthing the words.
Isabel was ignoring Jesse, Maria snuck out with her the next day.
Isabel had been thinking about getting a job at a music store.
Maria wandered down one of the aisles while Isabel filled out an
application and wondered which one she should buy.
Unfortunately, she didn’t know which one would make Michael happy
- she was still trying to understand what happy meant.
Isabel found her staring blankly at a bunch of CD's and smirked
for Michael’s gift?” Isabel spoke to her.
guess,” Maria said as if it was no big deal.
Metallica. He’s into that
remembered Michael’s worn out t-shirt then and nodded her head. She grabbed the biggest Metallica CD she could find, the box
set, and Isabel helped her find some nice wrapping paper for it.
Maria had a wrapped package for Michael waiting near her purse.
She stood up while the others were still busy talking to Mrs. Evans
and retrieved the package. Michael
moved to greet Mrs. Evans, but Maria stopped him, gently grasping his
she told him while he turned to look at her.
took the gift from her and looked back up at her for a second.
this?” He gestured to himself. Maria nodded eagerly.
Michael seemed stunned for a few seconds more and then proceeded to
tear off the paper in one fell swoop.
His mouth fell open when he saw what it was.
“The full Metallica box set!” He grinned while looking at her
again, happiness glimmering in his eyes.
you,” he said softly.
looked at the CD, nodding. Michael
did like it, a lot.
this is what Christmas was all about.
© 2002-2003 Roswell: The Final Chapter.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.
to events, real or imaginary, are strictly coincidental.
Roswell: The Final Chapter is in no way affiliated with UPN, the
WB, Regency Television, 20th Century Fox, or Jason Katims Productions.
© 2004-2005 Roswell: The Final
Chapter. Unauthorized reproduction
prohibited. Any similarities to events, real or imaginary, are
strictly coincidental. Roswell: The Final
Chapter is in no way affiliated with UPN, the WB, Regency Television, 20th
Century Fox, or Jason Katims Productions.
© 2006-2007 Roswell: The Final
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited. Any similarities to events,
real or imaginary, are strictly coincidental. Roswell: The
Final Chapter is in no way affiliated with UPN, the WB, Regency
Television, 20th Century Fox, or Jason Katims Productions.