Sparkle and Fade

By TheLostMaximoff

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. R/R and Merry Christmas to everybody, especially the person this fic is a present for.

It's snowing outside, coming down in big, white flakes. It's fitting since tomorrow is Christmas. I never really got the chance to appreciate snow. Being from California, I wasn't really used to snow. But I guess over the years, it's kinda grown on me. A lot of things in life are like that I guess. I'm sure most people have said the same thing about me. Jubilee, she's a real pain in the butt but she grows on you. Yeah, that's me.

I can still hear everyone downstairs having fun at the Christmas party. I really should go back down and have some fun but I'm not really in the mood for it. Besides, there's something special I have to do that I want to do alone. I look over to the brightly wrapped package on my desk. It's your average present, not too long or too short. It's a perfect square, no oblong shape that might give away its true identity. I remember I used to always love guessing what was in my presents before opening them. I used to be really good at it. Spending so much time in malls and shopping centers, you learn how big things are or what kind of box they might come in. I haven't tried any tricks with this present though. To be honest, I'm not too sure I want to know what's in it at all.

Years ago, I met a guy named Angelo Espinoza. He wasn't exactly my type or at least that's what I kept trying to tell myself even though at the time I'm not too sure I really had a type. But I told myself that whatever my type was it wasn't really him. I mean don't get me wrong, Angelo was a great guy. He was funny in that smart-ass, bad boy way. He wasn't afraid to be himself either and I admired him for that no matter how hard of a time I gave him. We were always doing that, teasing each other and goofing on one another. It was silly and immature and pretty much the most fun I've ever had. I don't have fun much anymore, certainly not as much as I used to when I was with him. That light inside me kinda died out and I don't quite know how to restart it without him.

I sigh as I pick up the package, tracing the outline of the ribbon around it. I stare at the tag on it that simply reads "Jube". I know who it's from. The story of Angelo Espinoza had a lot of tragedy in it and when all was said and done his death was the most tragic thing of all. I found the package in the closet of the apartment we had shared when we moved to Los Angeles for a short time. I was in the city to take his ashes back home and I stopped by the old place. Turns out it was vacant and a lot of his stuff was still there. I cried when I found the package, well, cried even more than I was already doing.

So this is the moment of truth I guess. I could've very easily left that package in the closet and forgotten the whole thing. That would've been, I suppose, the mature thing to do: put all this behind me and move on. Pardon me but if it's alright I'll keep being immature and hold onto my memories and mementos of him. Honestly, he would've wanted me to be immature about it.

The bow comes off first. I'm never usually careful about these things but I'm nervous. My hand shakes as it begins to slowly open the gift. Going slow is no good, my hands are shaking way too much. I give up and rip into the package, throwing the scraps of wrapping paper everywhere as I peel it off the box. A plain, white box stares back at me but I know better than that. It's not what you see on the outside that counts. I wish I could've seen what was really going on between me and Angelo sooner. Maybe if I had I could've somehow stopped him from getting killed. Maybe I'm just being immature again. I snap the tape that's keeping the lid on the box and open it. A fresh round of salt stings my eyes as I take out the picture frame and stare at the photo inside. Generation X, class of 2001. Were we ever that young I wonder? I stare at the class photo, focusing most on him. He had such a great smile. I miss that smile so much. I grave my fingers against the back of the frame and feel a piece of paper stuck to it. I pull out the note carefully and unfold it. I should've just not opened this thing at all. I should've just left it in that closet because all it's doing is making me miss him more.

Jubes,

Sorry things didn't work out for you out here in L.A. I just wanted you to have this so no matter where you go I'll always be with you.

Angelo

"Always have been," I whisper tearfully as I hold the note to my chest, "Always will be forever. Merry Christmas, Angelo, wherever you are." I dry my eyes and stare fondly at the picture. It's hard to say why but I can feel like he's really smiling back at me, telling me to go ahead and be happy again. I owe him big time for this I guess. He gives me a lot of things, more than I could ever repay. He gives me hope again.

"Only because you asked so nicely," I tell the picture as I set it on my desk, dry my eyes, put on my brave face, and head back downstairs to try and make the best use I can of the happiness he gave me just from meeting him and being his friend.