Title: "A Christmas surprise"

Summary: Lina is on her way home to a quiet, cozy evening with her family, when her classmate Holli steps into the same bus. Lina hides from her, but to her surprise, Holli notices the same charity poster that she did.

Author's 1st note: Just a small little Christmas one-shot. I basically only got the idea because I saw a charity poster in one of the busses on my own way home a few days ago. It wasn't anything holidays-related though, it was about helping orangutans get back into the wild. And yes, I did give them money xD So, that's how I got the idea for this x3

For those who want to know: This story takes place in my high school AU.

Trigger warning: Mention of sexual violence.

[Please notify me if you notice any grammar mistakes. This isn't my first language, so there's bound to be mistakes.]

Lina felt a yawn coming, so she put her hand up to cover it, while she gave into the urge. She shook her head once it was over, put her hand straight into her coat pocket and shivered. She felt a snowflake touch her nose, and she smiled up at the dark sky, glistening with stars and crystalized water. She was looking forward to get home, snuggle inside a blanket with some hot cocoa and read a book to her younger sister. Marie was turning out to love fairytales just as much Lina did her age. Well, not that Lina ever stopped loving fairytales.

Lina had never been fond of the cold, but it did make her appreciate the warmth of a comfortable home. Something she knew not everyone had. Which was what had made her notice the poster in the bus. She sat down in an empty seat two rows away from it, so she had perfect view of the big text asking: "How big are your pockets this Christmas?"

A rather crude, guilt-ridden way of asking for charity, but if it truly helped some people, Lina couldn't care less. Though she did worry the ad was working against its own cause. Nevertheless, she pulled out her phone and looked over the information on the poster. It suggested offering 15 dollars by sending a simple text so Lina did just that. She quickly skimmed the rest of the text, noticing it also gave their mobile pay number in case anyone felt more generous. Lina didn't like thinking that way, but she knew some would use mobile pay to give even less.

Well, she supposed people gave what their hearts could afford. And their wallets.

At the next stop, someone Lina knew entered the bus. She couldn't help herself; she immediately pulled the oversized hood over her head and hid, praying her classmate hadn't seen her. She watched as the blonde girl sat down in the row ahead of her, and she breathed a sigh of relief. Feeling safe, Lina pulled the hood down just a bit to look at her classmate. Holli was the one person in class she just couldn't get along with. They had known each other since childhood, but just couldn't find any common ground. Which annoyed Lina to no end, being the social butterfly she was.

Lina was kind, cheerful and the first to offer anyone help. Sure, she could be a bit shy at first, but that wasn't exactly the case with classmates she'd known her whole life. As far as she knew, they all liked her a lot. But not Holli. No, that wasn't fair actually, Lina knew that it was her alone who had a problem with Holli, not the other way around. In fact, Holli was very friendly with her.

Too friendly.

Before their teen years, it was just a matter of being too different. But once puberty hit, Holli seemed to find that a very attractive trait in Lina. Holli had been openly flirting with Lina for a few years, not that the redhead took it at face value. Holli was, to put it plain and simple, not a very serious person. She was boisterous, cocky and shameless. Lina was sure Holli only flirted with her because of her reactions. Lina, unlike Holli, didn't have any romantic or sexual experience. So when Holli would throw a flirtatious or even dirty comment at her, Lina couldn't help but blush in embarrassment. Sometimes she'd even get angry, and that amused the blonde to no end.

No, Lina most definitely didn't think Holli was serious about her.

Lina didn't understand Holli in general. She knew about Holli's mother, everyone did. Nancy was a cool mom, the type the others felt more comfortable talking about sex and romance with than they did with their own parents. Most anyway. Nancy was very open about her profession as a burlesque dancer, and former erotic dancer at a place called Tenderloins. It was one of the few strip clubs, in their small town, that even people who didn't go to strip clubs knew about. It had become infamous after one of the strippers there spoke up about their own abuse and sexual violence in the field. It raised awareness, Tenderloins made a stand and it became known as the best place to work for sex workers.

Lina didn't know this for a fact, but she was pretty sure that the stripper was Nancy. Which meant that Holli was a result of sexual violence. Which made Lina wonder how that made Holli feel, how much she knew about it and how the heck she could bring herself to go to Tenderloins at all. Holli worked there, just as a waitress, but she worked there. At the place that her mother was raped, the place her mother still worked at.

No, Lina most definitely didn't understand why Holli hung out at Tenderloins.

And on the other hand, Lina was well-raised, was expected to behave a certain way and had a much more conventional life. Despite her father's death in serving their country, she grew up in a fairly normal home with her mother Barbara and little sister Marie. Lina loved her life, but she knew it was pretty boring in comparison to Holli's which was as colorful as it got. With her mother, how could it be anything else? After every holiday, Holli always had some new adventure to talk about. A new, obscure experience, sometimes even a dangerous one. Nancy was making it her goal in life that her daughter got exposed to as many parts of the world, and as many different people, as she could. Meanwhile Lina knew only the comfort of her little town, and the same people she known her whole life. Only books took her to faraway places. Places she might want to visit, but would never have the courage to. Not like Holli did.

No, Lina most definitely didn't see how she and Holli could get along.

Lina was pulled out of her web of thoughts, when she heard Holli mumble to herself. She was clearly looking at the poster as she pulled out her phone. Lina would have done a double-take if she wasn't already sitting down. No, there was no way that Holli was the type to give to charity, not even with a small sum of 15 dollars. It didn't matter how streetwise or world-known she was, she still gave off a clear vibe that she didn't care about anyone but herself. And her mother.

Holli didn't care that Lina didn't want her to flirt with her. Holli was rude and spoke her mind too freely. Holli never offered an extra hand or did more than minimum. No way would she give to charity.

But she was, Lina could see it clearly on Holli's phone because she had snuck her head in-between the seats. She knew better, she was raised better than to sneak glances at other people's phones. But she had to. She just had to see if Holli really did it. She noticed that rather than texting the number, Holli entered the mobile pay app. If Lina had been the type, she would have rolled her eyes. Of course Holli was one of those; a person who gives the absolute minimum to make themselves feel like they did something good this year. If they had been kids, this would be the equivalent of doing some extra chores at home before Christmas Eve so Santa would put them on the Nice List.

Lina peeked between the seats, trying to catch a glimpse of the amount Holli would send to the charity. At first, she thought she saw wrong. But she snuck a bit closer and confirmed that the number she was seeing was correct.

Holli was sending them 100 dollars.

"What the—"

Lina scooted back in her seat, hiding under her hood again, just in time for Holli to look over her shoulder. Lina prayed Holli wouldn't recognize her and think her mind must be playing tricks on her. To Lina's luck, Holli turned around in her seat again and continued typing. Lina would have sighed in relief if that wouldn't give her away.

She couldn't believe it. From what she knew, Holli wasn't exactly rich. Sure she and her mother traveled, but there was always an explanation why they could afford it. Traveling with friends, Nancy knowing the owner of the place they'd stay at, Nancy working while they were traveling, and such. They did not have a lot of money, not more than Lina's family anyway. How could Holli afford to give away 100 dollars to a random charity?

More importantly… Lina had misjudged her. Terribly. Well, Holli was still all those things she had thought about earlier. But perhaps she was more than that. Maybe Lina did want to get to know Holli a little more.

Author's 2nd note: Happy holidays and a happy new year to you all! :D