Disclaimer: I don't own anything here. Let's play pretend.

A/N – It's Christmas in May! Why not, right? Anyway, I was bored and procrastinating on my homework, so I decided to whip up this little Cassie/Marco holiday fic. LOL. Inspired by Sky Sourceress's awesome C/M fics.

CHRISTMAS IN MAY

By: Hopeful Writer

My name is Marco. Just Marco. I know, you're waiting for the witty comment that follows that. But for now, it's just Marco.

It was cold out. But it felt so good.

I know I shouldn't have been walking in the snow in a T-shirt and sweatpants, but it felt good to feel the wind against my bare arms. It was... calming.

I know. That sounds really dumb. And I don't normally do this. But it was Christmas Eve. Christmas freaking Eve and I had no place to go.

Yeah, I could have gone back to my little cave in the Hork Bajir valley. But then what? Sit there with my parents and mourn over all the stuff we don't have? I don't think so. I don't do self-pity.

Much.

So why was I walking to Cassie's house? I mean, I knew she'd be eating with her family, getting ready for bed so good old St. Nick could come and give her presents that night. Besides, Cassie and I weren't even that close. We never had been. She was Jake's girlfriend (not that either of them would admit it), a fellow Animorph, and Rachel's best friend. Nothing more.

But I couldn't stop walking there. It was like I needed to see her.

What was wrong with me?

Cassie was outside when I got there. I don't know what she was doing, just staring into the dark, star-filled sky as the snow fell around her. She wasn't wearing a jacket either, just a long-sleeved shirt and jeans. She looked like she was getting cold, but she also looked like she didn't want to move.

"You're lucky it's not raining," I commented, causing her to jump and turn around to look at me. "That's exactly how turkey's drown."

She studied me for a second before grinning. "Hi, Marco."

I walked over to her. "Hey. What are you doing out so late?"

"I could ask you the same question," she replied, raising an eyebrow at me.

I glanced into the sky. "Yeah, but then we could both remember that I don't have any reason not to be out here. But you... it's Christmas Eve. How come you're not inside with your parents?"

She frowned. "They're at a party."

Nothing else. Just that short answer. And that said it all.

"Sorry, Cassie." I don't know why I apologized. It just seemed like the thing to do.

"What about you?" she asked suddenly, as if changing the subject. "How come you're not with your parents?"

I shrugged, jamming my hands into my pockets. I was starting to get cold. "They're not doing anything special. I think they forgot Christmas is tomorrow anyway. It's not like they can go to the store and buy presents for each other."

She grinned. "Just like you can't walk around the streets?"

"Exactly." We both laughed, even though it wasn't really funny.

Eventually the laughter died down into a comfortable silence. Then that faded into an uncomfortable silence. I had to say something, anything...

"Nice weather, huh?"

Anything... but that.

Cassie looked at me like I'd grown an extra head. "What?" she demanded.

"Uh, the weather. It's... nice," I replied wittily.

"Sure..."

There was that silence again.

I sighed. Cassie was looking at the stars again. "Did you ever wonder," she began, "what it would be like right now if we hadn't taken that shortcut home, Marco?"

I was taken aback by that. I closed my eyes for a second to think about it. "I'd probably be at a party right now, getting laid by some beautiful blonde chick and getting drunk or high."

"I'm serious, Marco."

So was I, but I didn't think she'd appreciate that. I shrugged. "Who knows, Cass? Maybe everything would be different. I'd still have a home, my dad would still be my dad, he'd be depressed or remarried, I'd hate the woman he married. I'd think my mom was dead, Jake and I would still play video games and basketball, I'd go to school, make decent grades, sleep through history. I wouldn't talk to Tobias, probably not to Rachel very often, never would have met Ax, and would only know you as Jake's girlfriend. I'd walk through everyday thinking my life was so important when, in reality, it wasn't." I paused, looked up at the sky, then back at her. "Or I'd have joined the Sharing and be some low-ranking Controller right now."

She bit her lip. That seemed to bring tears to her eyes. "Would you want to go back to your old life?" she asked quietly.

I didn't answer for a long time. To be honest, I didn't know the answer. If I had the choice, would I redo my life and never take that shortcut? Or would I make the same mistake? Did I want to be a normal kid?

Finally I shook my head. "No. As much as I complain about all the problems with what we do, I wouldn't want it any other way. At least now I know I'm doing something important. And, hey, if I can save a few lives in the process, I'm game." I grinned, trying to turn it into a joke. "Besides, life was quite a bore before Rachel started talking to me."

Cassie didn't laugh. In fact, she looked closer to crying than before. Actually... I looked closer. She was crying. "Oh, no. Nonono. Don't cry," I exclaimed. Jokes, I could deal with. Crying, I could not. "Cassie. Cassie, don't cry. Please, don't cry," I begged hysterically. I rubbed her back soothingly, like my mother had done when I was a little child.

She wiped the tears away furiously. "I'm sorry. I just... it must be the time of year. It always makes me pensive. This is the first Christmas since the war started and I'm just... a little thrown off, that's all. Sorry."

"Don't apologize!" I don't know why her apology bothered me so much, but it did. "You have nothing to be sorry about. I just don't like to see people cry," I added, my voice a great deal quieter than it had started.

"Why not?"

I shrugged. How was I supposed to know?

Silence lapsed again, but it was the kind of silence that comes when two people are lost in their own thoughts. It was a good while before I realized my hand was still on her back. I pulled it back, but it was a good deal of reluctance.

I mentally slapped myself. What was wrong with me? I wasn't really going to stoop so low as to hit on Jake's girlfriend, was I?

"I love the snow."

That comment took me by surprise. Cassie was a lot of things -- funny, adventurous, kind, thoughtful -- but I didn't see her as a snow-lover. "You do?"

"Yeah. It's so beautiful, pure. There are so few things in this world that are really pure, Marco."

The lyrics from a song came into my head. "In a baby's laugh, in a mother's eyes, little miracles around us everyday of our lives," I quoted, without really knowing why.

She looked at me quite suddenly, like I'd said something profound. Then she grinned. "You listen to country music?" Obviously, she knew the song.

I blushed. "What can I say? I'm a closet country fan."

She laughed at that. I suppose it seemed kind of preposterous -- funny, sarcastic Marco being a country music fan. But I liked the lyrics. They were cool.

By this time, my arms were quite numb, although I hadn't really noticed. The bottoms of Cassie's pants were wet from the ankle-length snow. I picked up a handful of the snow. It was cold, so cold it hurt, but I rolled it into a ball anyway. Grinning, I lobbed it at Cassie and it smacked her in the head. "Hey!" she yelled, picking up her own handful, grimacing just slightly as the coldness touched her skin.

We got involved in a furious snowball fight, which ended when she dropped a snowball down the back of my shirt. "Holy sh*t!" I cried, hopping around to get it out. "That's so cold!"

She laughed, then glanced down at her clothes. "I'm soaked," she murmured, brushing some snow off her shirt.

I grinned. I was feeling particularly evil at the moment. Grabbing her around the waist, I swept her legs out from underneath her and buried her in the snow. She shrieked and dragged me down with her, giggling madly. My watch alarm went off. It was officially Christmas Day.

I pulled my snow-soaked head up to meet Cassie's eyes and smiled at the twinkle in them. Suddenly, she looked serious, as if noticing the small distance between us. "Marco," she whispered, "you know when you said that I would only be Jake's girlfriend to you if not for the Animorphs?" I nodded, not trusting myself to speak. "Well, I'm not, you know. Jake's girlfriend, I mean. I mean, not officially. In other words, I'm single. You know—"

I cut her off with a kiss.

There was only one thing I was thinking as we kissed, and it wasn't about how Jake would break every bone in my body if he found out. All I could think about was how great if felt to have Cassie's body pressing against mine in the snow, kissing the life out of her.

Then we pulled apart and all I could think of was how Jake would break every bone in my body if he found out.

I jumped out. "Oh, God, Cassie! I'm so sorry. I mean... God, I'm sorry."

"Don't apologize!" she cried. Her eyes were wide and fearful; she looked close to tears. "Don't say you're sorry. If it was a mistake... if it was a mistake, then just let me have Christmas to pretend it wasn't," she finished, her voice in a whisper.

My heart felt like it would burst out of my chest when she said that. She wanted it to be real? But she... she was with Jake. She loved Jake. She...

She was crying again.

Crap.

"Don't cry! Don't cry! Look, I didn't mean it was a mistake. I meant, well, I meant that it was a mistake." More tears. "But not because I wanted to! I thought you wanted to. I thought you loved Jake. And I thought you were upset that I kissed you. Oh, stop crying. Please, Cassie?"

The tears were starting to ebb, which was making me feel a lot better. Well, a little better at least. "Are you mad at me?" I asked suddenly. Oh, good one, Marco. Now she not only will think you're pathetic, but she'll think you're a pathetic two-year-old.

But, to my surprise, she laughed. "No, I'm not mad. I'm... I'm confused, Marco. What are we?"

I licked my lips nervously. I hated these questions. They were usually followed by 'Get the hell away from me!' Which I was not looking forward too.

Finally, I sighed. "Jake is going to kill me."

"Why?"

I bit my lip. Hard. Hard enough to draw blood. It was now or never. "Because I'm in love with his girlfriend."

Cassie stared at me for a moment, long enough to make my blood run cold. Then she leaned close to me, almost threateningly, and whispered, "For the last time, I'm not his girlfriend."

I was surprised by those words. But I was more surprised by what happened next. Cassie leaned closer to me and pressed her lips against mine, quite firmly. My head was swimming as I took in her softness, her scent, the feel of her against me. I was aware that I was shivering, but I was pretty sure it wasn't from the cold.

We pulled apart, both breathless, and she smiled at me. "Merry Christmas, Marco."

A/N – Did that really suck? I kind of wrote it between research reports, while I was taking breaks and such. I just needed to get this out. If you want to flame me, go on. I can't promise I'll take it well. I do have a rather wicked temper. *grins tauntingly*