She hates last minute Christmas shopping.

Somehow, they have gone and braved the never ending sea of rambunctious little tykes running around and screaming like souls possessed around the toy store to get Nozomi that stupid plush lion "Kyon" doll she had been (not so) subtlety hinting about wanting.

"Asuka! Stop playing videogames and let's go, I already got Nozomi's!"

Asuka will grumble for "5 more minutes" before she feels Hikari taking a hold of the collar of her jacket, dragging her while one of the other eager kids finally gets to try out the new console for sale on Christmas eve.

"Honestly Asuka, you're worse that Toji.!"

Asuka will turn to look at Hikari, ready to retort, before noticing how she is smiling that big, dopey smile she has, whenever she's buying presents for her and her loved ones.

"Oh God! We're going to the Tokyo-3 Sports Emporium to get him a ball to kick, aren't we?"

Minutes later they will emerge with a new set of sports shoes and track suits, and Asuka will realize the idiot's really are the easiest to buy; Hikari gets Toji anything sports related and he's a happy camper. Mayumi gets her stooge anything high tech, and both their glasses are fogging not a minute later. Mana only needs to talk to 'Sashi in that coy tone of voice she uses for him and only for him, and the other stupid jock will be putty in her hands.

"Asuka come one, we still have to get Kodama's gifts."

She will let herself be dragged by her energetic, pig tailed friend from the food court after stopping to get something to drink, and she won't be able to help herself but smile with Hikari, as they continue to walk with all the other people in search of the perfect Christmas gift, noticing the way the shopping center is lit with lights the color of red and green and white and yellow, while tinsel is found bounding around and around the other stores in silver and gold.

"Eh… c'mon I still need to get my dad something."

In the distance she sees Shigeru exiting one of those stores that make such a show at trying to make older people (what is he, like 30?) seem young, while he and Makoto (sometimes she wonders about those two) chat with each other before running into Kaji, who also has several bags in his hands.

"A-Asuka c'mon!"

And suddenly, out of nowhere, like a bad scene form a movie or a TV show (or one of those Manga Rei seems to like so much) She will see Misato with Ritusko and Maya, also carrying their Christmas purchases, while Fuyutsuki finds himself chatting with the equally old (maybe even more) teacher, as well as old man Tokita and even Herr Keel about something or other, and maybe she just imagined it, but for a moment it seemed like someone just ducked behind Fuyutsuki, an glare coming form the shadows almost as if some orange tinted glasses had caught the light at the worst possible time.

"Asuka! I don't wanna ru-"

Her voice dies when thy both see Shinji and Toji, followed by Rei and…

It's then when she sees it, peeking out form Shinji's own bag; She thought someone else would have listened; she was sure it would have been Kaji, or Hikari, or maybe Mayumi… hell even from Mana she would have expected it.

But not from him.

And Asuka can't do anything else but turn to Hiakri, silently asking her how? And why?

"Promise me you'll act surprised when he gives it to you."

And Asuka says nothing, simply grounds her teeth, turning sharply and walking towards the exit.

"Asuka," Hikari is immediately besides her, panting as she runs to keep next to her. "where are you going?"

"To the music store." Asuka says simply, checking her watch as she runs to try and hide her blush. "I think I can still get that idiot something and have it nicely wrapped."

She really hates last minute Christmas shopping.

----- -----

She loves Christmas mornings.

Asuka remembers when as a child she would normally lie awake, eyes open wide and panting with the anticipation of what was to come.

She would be scope up by papa and be carried to her bed, where he would kiss her forehead and tuck her in. Mama would come then shortly afterwards and sit besides her; and she would pretend to be asleep, lying quietly and without moving on her bed, while peering through half opened eyes.

Mama would be staring down, face shrouded by the darkness of the room, before smiling softly and leaning in, kissing her forehead and easing her bangs, before muttering a soft "Guten Nacht Schatz" almost like a whisper meant for her and only for her.

She will then open her eyes and giggle to herself once the door had been closed behind, and lie awake in her bed, legs kicking softly against the cover, feeling warm and protected and safe before she would hear the all familiar clicking before the lights of the living room downstairs creeping under the door go off as the whole house is plunged into darkness save for the red and green and white lights going on and off at lapses in time.

She will hear her parents, their feet shuffling against the soft plush carpet as the big oak door to their room clicks shut behind them. She will then wait for some more minutes that will feel like an eternity for her before quietly kicking the covers, and slipping into her slippers.

She will open the door ever so slowly and tiptoe in the dark before she smells first the pine tree and her eyes see the lights of the tree in front of her.

But there is nothing around, save for the platter of cookies and milk

She will then grab one of the sofa cushions and plop it besides the chimney that is still roaring softly against the night, before she lies with her head propped on her hands, elbows digging into the soft plush of the cushion, her tiny frame nestled into the soft fabric within, staring up at the lights, imagining the big, fat red smiling man, coming down the chimney to deliver her presents for being such a good little girl.

Before knowing it, she will fall asleep with a smile in her face.

As she wakes up the following morning, she will boxes and boxes and towers of presents covering the tree, underneath and besides and pushing against the walls behind; the cookies will be gone, same as the milk in the glass, and on the little night table, a red plush hat with white trimmings and a white cotton ball on the tip.

And she will smile that bright wide smile every kid has during the early morning of Christmas day before launching themselves to open the presents, making such ruckus and noise that would wake the parents in bed.

And if not, the subsequent running, shouting that "Santa was here, Santa was here" before she launches herself at her parent's room landing between them and shouting...

Santa was here, Santa was here…

So as she watches what seems like someone repeating the same words, with the same gestures and the same actions… with dark blue eyes shinning and dancing with happiness and dark brown hair (a shade browner than her, but still not as dark as his) She can't help but smile even when her daughter's elbows her stomach, and kick her dad on the back.

Because Santa was here…

She really can't help but smile at that.

She's staring at him and she sees how happy he looks and how he carries her in his arms, twirling and smiling and looking so completely and utterly happy, and she smiles as well when she realizes that she loves Christmas mornings.


Well, I hope he doesn't get mad that I took her out to play again...

Anyway... I'll try and make this short and sweet.

I really hope everyone here has a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

I want to wish to each and every one peace and prosperity, happiness and fun.

It's a time to chill with the people you've forever known, so guzzle the eggnog (and don't care if you do it alone).

Me? I'll stay outside and stare at the starry sky, and watch A Charlie Brown Christmas 'till I feel like I'm nine.

With this little poem, I will now take my leave, and once again say:

Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

EB, Out!