GASP!!! Is this the first Spiral fic of the year 2008? And the Grinch one the last of 2007? FWII! I hope it's in good taste, yes. Oki-doki! Everyone knows that I don't own Spiral and I DO NOT own anything relating to the people that Hiyono is researching, if anyone can catch onto who they are...mwahahahhahaa! Read on!

The clicking of keys always kept him awake. It was like she couldn't even be quiet when he gave her something to research for him. He would sit up and chastise her, but he didn't want to wake himself from sleep any more than necessary. Did she have to type so loud?

It didn't seem to matter that he hadn't had a good night's sleep in days, between Madoka decorating the house for Christmas, Hiyono being, well, Hiyono, and the carolers whose voices seemed to carry for miles. He really hated this time of year. Everybody was so happy and cheery and loud and obnoxious. Plus, Hiyono made sure he went Christmas shopping. That was the worst part.

This year, he promised himself that he wouldn't let her take him anywhere and he would rather sleep through December 25th. He didn't want anything to do with it. Not this time. His lack of sleep had only caused him to be even more set on his decision.

Still, even when she had something quiet to do, those stupid keys wouldn't stop clacking in his head. Couldn't she be quiet for two seconds? The more the rattling rang in his ears, the more distant the idea of sleep became. As his brain was pulled out of sleep completely, he finally resolved to make verbal contact to shut her up.

"Hn."

Hiyono turned around on her swivel chair to face her supposedly sleeping friend, a magazine still over his face, "What, Narumi-san?"

He made a low, indecent growl as he sat up and let the cooking magazine slide off his face, "Can't you even be quiet when you're NOT talking?"

She huffed, puffing her bottom lip at him, "But, Narumi-san! You were the one who asked me to research Shirodaira Kyou, Mizuno Eita, Christopher Bevins, Caitlin Glass, and Daniel Kats√ľk." she counted off the names in her head.

Ayumu glared at her, "I only told you that to get you to keep your mouth quiet."

Hiyono puffed out her cheeks, "Narumi-san, that's so mean! It's almost Christmas!"

He groaned, "Look, if you want to go for all that Christmas junk, that's fine. But don't expect me to do any more than sleep through December 25th, and I don't want you to ruin it."

Hiyono pouted, then her face turned a bit more serious, "What about research, Narumi-san? Do you still want me to do it?"

Ayumu gave a slight nod before he rose to his feet, "And I don't want you bugging me."

With that, he walked out of the Newsroom and down the hall to find a place on the roof to take a nap, despite the cold.

---

The roof wasn't all too comfy in the freezing temperatures, even for him. He tossed and turned to either side, trying to find a place where he could fall asleep. He closed his eyes, trying to think of something nice, like a few days' sleep in his own bed without any interruptions from anything or anyone. A few days without Hiyono, Madoka, or anything whatsoever to bother him. Now THAT would be a Christmas present he was willing to accept.

Right now, though, he would rather just get away from everything. Especially whoever was poking him in the ribs. Wait, poking him in the ribs?

He drowsily opened his eyes to look up at a silhouette of someone leaning over him. The agitated voice of the silhouette came in a high-pitched remark, "Wake up, you lazy bum."

She prodded his ribs until he finally sat up out of irritation. He looked over the small silver-haired imp, waiting for her to explain why she disturbed his sleep. She snorted at his arrogance and spoke again, "Come on, Little Narumi. Hurry up."

He raised his eyebrow suspiciously, "Why?"

She folded her arms, "Just get up. I want to show you something."

Rather annoyed, the chocolate-haired detective slowly stood and waited for Rio to explain herself. Rio didn't speak, merely turning around and waving him to follow. Ayumu really didn't feel like playing another one of her games, but as long as there wasn't life and death on the line, maybe he could comply just this one time. Although, he wouldn't be surprised one bit if this was a trap, as these things usually were.

No doubt he would have to solve some almost-unsolvable puzzle just to test his wits. Man, he really hated those. Right now, if only they would just leave him alone. Actually, if they all left him alone all the time, he would like that.

He had been so absorbed in his thoughts that he hadn't noticed where he was going. He found himself in some part of town that almost seemed familiar, but he couldn't place it. He glanced around, it was afternoon already. Finally, he rested his eyes on Rio, skipping ahead of him, "Hey, where are we going."

Rio didn't answer, but she pointed Ayumu around the corner and scampered down the sidewalk of the small side road. Wordlessly, Ayumu followed, stopping when Rio came to a stop to stand on her tiptoes so she could see inside a lit window of a small house. He rolled his eyes and began to turn and walk away, but she stopped him, "Come here."

He sighed exasperatedly and walked to the window, his eyes scanning the inside, "There's nothing there. Isn't this illegal?"

Rio bonked his head with her small fist, "Shut up and look harder, stupid!"

Rubbing his head, he peered into the window. Surprisingly, that's when he saw something.

There was a lit Christmas tree in the living room and lots of presents sitting under it. No one was in the room, but Ayumu could almost smell cinnamon buns baking from the kitchen. A little girl trudged into the room, her thick hair hanging over her eyes. She seemed to make a point to hide her face as she walked towards the stairs on the other side of the living room. A tall woman in her thirties came into the living room and smiled at the young girl. Ayumu could almost hear everything they were saying.

"Hey, Sweety, how was school?"

The little girl shook her head and continued walking towards the steps, her brightly-colored backpack still on her back. The woman, with an apron tied around her waist, briskly meandered over to her daughter and knelt down, wrapping her arms around the little girl as the little girl's eyes filled with tears. She tried to hide it, but her mother simply rubbed her back and hugged her tightly, "What happened, Honey?"

The little girl's face scrunched tensely, her lips pursing to try to keep from crying. Finally she buried her head in her mother's shoulder and started sobbing, trying to speak between her childish sobs, "They all think I'm weird, Mommy! They keep calling me names and teasing me! They pull my hair and steal my stuff! Today that one girl pushed me in the mud because my hair was ugly and they all laughed..."

Her mother hugged her tighter and lifted her off the ground, setting the little girl on her hip and starting to walk upstairs. The little girl wiped her eyes and protested, "But, Mommy! Your back!"

The woman smiled and shook her head, "I'll be fine, my honey-haired little angel. Now you listen to me, your hair is beautiful." she gently brushed her finger on the little girl's nose, "And so is the rest of you. Come on, let's get you cleaned up, then I'll let you have some cinnamon buns."

The little girl squealed with glee as they disappeared upstairs.

Ayumu yawned, "And what does this have to do with me? Who was that girl?"

He turned to look at Rio only to find no one standing there. When he glanced back at the window, the lights were off and he couldn't see anything inside. He gave a sigh, and walked back the way he had originally came, hoping to find his way back to the school before school let out. Instead, he had a feeling he was just going to end up lost.

When he heard a familiar voice behind him, he decided that the best thing to do was to keep walking and ignore it, but it persisted and caught up with him, literally.

"Yo, Narumi! Narumi!"

When the blatant redhead caught up with the hardheaded Sherlock, he laughed, "Did you actually leave in the middle of school without them noticing?"

Ayumu didn't answer. Kousuke smirked and folded his hands behind his head, "There's something you need to see."

Ayumu rolled his eyes, wondering where Ryoko was as he followed Asazuki back to the school and over to a nearby open window. Both climbed back inside the building and made their way down the hall to the newsroom. Ayumu entered slowly, hearing that ever-familiar voice inside. She didn't seem to notice his entrance at all, but she still sat at that computer, rattling away on the keys.

However, Ayumu was more interested in what she was saying and how she looked. She looked absolutely exhausted, and she was muttering about something. Her keystrokes slowed and it didn't take long for him to figure out that she was talking about him.

"Narumi-san...you're so difficult. I don't even know what to get you for Christmas. You'd think it be easy to find something to give your best friend. No, not Narumi-san. Narumi-san is so hard to find a present for. Even so, I need to find one, and I need to...work more...I need money for Narumi-san's gift..."

Her babblings slowed even more as her head lowered onto the keys. It didn't take her long to fall asleep, leaning on the keys, which continued to type letters over and over as she leaned on them.

Ayumu watched her. She wanted to get something for HIM? Man, she was annoying. More annoying now than usual. He growled. Maybe he had to find somewhere further than his house to get some peace and quiet. Right now, he decided to get out of there before Hiyono noticed that he was still in the room.

It seemed like forever for the school day to end and the Christmas vacation to begin. When it finally did, Ayumu was more than happy to get home before Hiyono could find him. As he came into view of the apartment building, he became aware of someone following him. Too tired to look back, he kept going until, like the keystrokes, the clacking of black boots against the concrete annoyed him out of his mind. He stopped and hissed, "What do you want, Rutherford?"

The white-haired pianist blinked, watching Ayumu for a moment. The brunet glared at him, "I guess you want to show me something that has nothing to do with me too, right?"

Eyes merely turned around and walked in the other direction. Even if all this had nothing to do with him, Ayumu wasn't going to admit he was at least a little curious. He shook his head in irritation and followed a few yards behind. Eyes stopped at the path to the door of the house that Rio had showed Ayumu earlier. First, Ayumu couldn't believe how dark it was, and how quickly the night had come. Slowly he walked up to the door of the house, with the solemn pianist close behind. The house had no lights on, inside or outside. Ayumu, knowing he should knock on the door but not caring in the least, turned the doorknob to find it unlocked. He slowly made his way inside and glanced around, trying to let his eyes adjust to the light, or lack thereof.

When he walked to the doorway of the living room, he could see everything he had seen earlier that day, only it seemed different somehow. The kitchen was more dismal and littered with take-out bags and microwavable tray-wrappers. It smelled like fast food instead of cinnamon buns. Suddenly, Ayumu heard footsteps coming down the stairs as the living room light flicked on.

Ayumu became anxious that he would be discovered, but the figure coming down the stairs didn't even notice his presence. She glanced at a very sloppily-dressed Christmas tree and fell to her knees. Ayumu peered at her to get a closer look. His best friend looked older, weathered, tired, disheveled, and, what was it? Yes, sad. Hiyono Yuizaki's eyes were welled up with tears. There were no Christmas presents under the tree and the whole house looked different.

Eyes stood next to Ayumu, observing Hiyono with a stoic face. He spoke softly, "This isn't the first Christmas she's spent alone. The way it is now is the way it will probably be until she dies."

Ayumu's attention snapped to Eyes, then to his best friend, "What about her family?"

Eyes didn't answer his question and walked away. Ayumu's heart clenched inside his chest. He forced his shaking limbs to take him only a few feet from Hiyono, but as he walked towards her, he felt like he was getting further away.

His brain wrenched itself away from her. Everything went black as he heard someone's voice.

He slowly and painfully opened his eyes to a tall, brown-haired athlete nudging him with her foot, "Narumi? You still up here? Do you have any idea what time it is?"

He groaned and suddenly jolted awake, "Where is she?"

Ryoko stared down at him a few moments, "You mean Yuizaki? She was right here sitting next to you since school let out. Around eight o'clock I told her to go home and get some rest. She was so tired. I was trying to find that stupid idiot Kousuke when I found her trying to stay awake up here. I told her that I would wake you up."

Ayumu rose quickly to his feet and ran past her without a word. Now he knew exactly where he had seen that house before. He had walked Hiyono home a thousand times, he had no idea why it hadn't occurred to him.

---

Hiyono yawned again. Man, she couldn't even stay awake when she was trying to eat. She didn't seem to want to eat anymore. Her food only half-eaten, she cleaned up the kitchen and made sure everything was in order. She then opened the trash can and dumped the rest of her food down the disposal. Thank God she didn't have to work tonight. Finishing the research for Ayumu had taken her a while, but she didn't complain. At least it was all finished.

With a sigh, Hiyono sat down on the carpet in the living room and turned on the Christmas tree lights. Maybe Christmas wouldn't be so bad after all. It always felt so warm, even when she was alone. She closed her eyes, feeling the light of the Christmas tree on her eyelids.

Suddenly, the opening of the front door almost made her jump. She glanced over at the doorway to find none other than Ayumu Narumi standing there, looking as if he was almost exhausted from running or something.

Nearly shocked, she could barely let out, "Narumi-san, what's-"

He hustled over to where she was kneeling and fell to his own knees, wrapping his arms firmly around her shoulders, pressing her into a tight embrace, although he would never call it that. Hiyono bit her lip, trying to deny passage to the salty liquid threatening her eyes.

The shivering of her shoulders told him that she was indeed, crying. When she buried her head in his chest, he could feel the moist dampness of her tears on his shirt. He reached up to thread his hands through her hair, nuzzling his face into her neck. After a few minutes of letting all her pain and frustration out, she lifted her head and wiped her eyes. He pulled back as well, as she spoke to him, still sniffling, "Narumi-san, I'm sorry. I couldn't get anything for you for Christmas."

He gently covered her mouth with his hand, "Shut up, stupid girl, you already have."

She peeled his hand off of her mouth and tried to continue making excuses, "But, Narumi-san! It's Christmas! I have to get SOMETHING! I mean, without something to give you! I don't understand! Why are you-mmph!"

This time, Ayumu used something other than his hand to silence Hiyono. She seemed to take it rather well. It made him want to hold her. Part of him wanted to tell her what had made him burst in her house like that so suddenly, and part of her wanted to ask him why he had come and what he meant by the whole Christmas present thing. However, he really didn't feel like hearing her excuses. Plus, both of their mouths were preoccupied at the moment.

He knew that she wanted to know, but he didn't feel like he should have to say what Christmas present she had given him. After all, coming to realize and love what he had before it was taken away was gift enough for this year.

I actually really like this one. I know that it's not totally in tune with the manga or the anime or probably even the characters, but I really like it for some reason. Hmm, I guess this could somehow be counted as something of a parody, but I don't care. I'm too lazy...Anywho, you guys can tell me all you want that it's not Christmas anymore, but the way I see it, Christmas is whenever you want it to be. Alrighty, only one more Christmas fic before I resume my tasks on chapter fics! Love you guys! Tootles and God bless you! I'll be praying for you! -Cheeseball out-