Disclaimer: Not mine.

A/N: Let me first start off by apologizing for being so late in updating this. I haven't forgotten this story, and do plan on finishing it. However, my computer died. And then my beta's computer died. And then there were finals. And then there were holidays. And then there were in laws – which, by the way, never have in laws if you can manage it.

So, sorry again for the late update, but enjoy this! It's superdy dooper long, neighborino!

Thank you Jordan, for sticking with me and getting this beta'd!! And thanks to everyone who has reviewed/favorited/alerted this story!

Second Chapter's Summary: Duncan and Courtney have invited both sets of parents to their apartment for Thanksgiving.



Happy Holidays

by Touch of Violet



Chapter Two

Happy Thanksgiving

November 26th

Courtney stirred from her sleep, yawning but refusing to open her eyes. The bed was so warm and comfy and she really didn't even want to begin thinking about everything she would have to do that day. She rolled over on her left side and reached out a hand to grab a hold of …

Empty space.

Growling quietly, Courtney blinked her dark eyes open.

His side of the bed was completely vacant of him. She closed her eyes and tried to listen for any sound around the apartment. After a moment, the unmistakable sound of something getting blown up on the living room's TV caught her attention. She sighed and shook her head against the pillow.

"Halo," she mumbled in disdain before quickly pulling the covers off her body. She stretched her way out of bed and headed toward the adjoining bathroom. Scratching and yawning, she flicked on a light and headed to the bathroom sink. She blinked at her reflection in the mirror, her eyes adjusting to the sudden brightness.

Unsure, she leaned forward, more closely examining her appearance.

A look of shock flashed across her face and she raised a hand to her forehead.

"No!" Courtney whispered in panic. There, on her forehead, slightly above her right eyebrow was the absolute largest pimple she had ever seen in her entire life.


Apparently, her religious use of Proactive and even switching to the freaking pill hadn't stopped her acne from rearing its ugly head at the most inopportune moment. Did her skin not realize all she had to do these next three days?

Courtney put up a valiant struggle. She washed her face, used all of her acne products that were supposed to making pimples invisible, and applied make up like she had never applied make up before. But nothing would appease Mt. Vesuvius' wrath.

"Typically volcanoes need virgin sacrifices," she snorted.

Deciding there was nothing else she could do, she quickly got dressed and headed to the living room. There her boyfriend sat, hair unfaux-hawked and hanging messily in his face. He had a headset on and a controller in his hands, playing Halo, just as she suspected.

"Good morning," she greeted, heading over to their kitchen. She rummaged through the junk drawer to find something to write a grocery list on.

"Hey babe," he greeted back, glancing up from his game to look at her. "How are – WOAH! Jeeze, what did you do with my hot girlfriend, Frankenstein?"

Courtney faltered in her pursuit through the junk drawer and looked up at the couch, offended. "Excuse me?"

He smirked at her. "You growing another eye or somethin'?"

She felt her face light up on fire. "DUNCAN!"

He cocked an eyebrow. "What? I'm not the one who's growing a satellite on their forehead."

"UGH!" She exclaimed, storming out of the kitchen and into the second bathroom, off the living room. She rummaged through the medicine cabinet, quickly grabbing the Band-Aids. Unfortunately, when she had bought the box of Band-Aids last month, the ones with superhero designs had been on sale. And so, those were the only ones she could choose from.

She tore through the box, pulling out one that was somewhat respectable, and placing it over the giant lump on her forehead. Staring at herself in the mirror, Courtney took the time to run her fingers through her hair. Smiling at her reflection, she left the bathroom. When she reappeared in the living room, Duncan stared back up at her again.

A game had just ended, so she was receiving his full attention.


"Band-Aid. Nice." He narrowed his blue eyes at her, trying to see what it looked like from across the room. "Power rangers?"

She grunted and glared, raising a hand to lightly touch the bandage. "No. It's the Flash."

He blinked. "What?"

Rolling her eyes, she headed back over to the kitchen. "The Flash. Superhero?"

"Never heard of him. What's his power? Control of lightning, or something?" His eyes were back on the TV screen.

Courtney opened up the fridge to see exactly what she needed to buy. "No, he can move at super speed."

"I've always preferred Wonder Woman, myself," Duncan said, a smirk in his voice. "That's what you should have been for Halloween, princess! You'd make a hot Wonder Woman. Well, except for the extra nose that sprouted up over night."

She slammed the fridge door closed and jotted down what she need. "I hate you."

He chuckled. "What? You can't take a little teasing, Princess?"

"Do you have a brain?" She snapped, slamming her list down on the counter. "This is a big freaking deal!"

He took the headset off and stared at her, unblinking. "The pimple?"

"No, not the pimple, you idiot!" Courtney pinched her nose between her thumb and forefinger. "Both of our families are coming to our apartment for Thanksgiving; Thanksgiving involving a huge dinner that I have to cook. And not only do I have to cook this huge dinner, I have to house everyone in my apartment. The way our apartment looks reflect who I am as a housekeeper. So, not only do I have to go shopping and buy a bajillion things to make a meal that I have never made on my own before, I have to scrub the house from head to toe and get it ready for inspection."

Duncan looked around the room in disbelief. "What would you have to scrub? The apartment looks fine."

She sighed and shook her head. "You don't understand," she mumbled.

"No, tell me. What do you have to do?" He asked, and for the first time all morning, he sounded concerned.

Courtney sighed again and looked around. "Well, the dishwasher needs to be unloaded. I need to vacuum. Both bathrooms need to be cleaned. All the trashcans have to be emptied. And I need to change the sheets on the two beds so they are nice and fresh for our parents, and find some somewhere for the air mattress."

"That doesn't sound like too much," Duncan said.

"That is on top of doing the normal laundry, preparing for the other meals our families will eat when they are here because - remember, our parents are showing up tonight. Plus somehow trying to stay ahead of my homework because, hello, uh, I'm still going to mother freaking Harvard. You know, it's just the college with the highest suicide rate in the country!"

He nodded and put the headset back on, turning his attention back to the TV screen. "I'm sure you'll get it all done, babe."

Biting her tongue and blinking back tears, she picked her list up off the counter. "I'm running to the store. I'll be back later."

Courtney didn't even bother to look back as she bolted out the door.


"He's such a jerk!" Courtney complained into her cell phone, holding it between her cheek and her shoulder as she pushed a grocery cart down an aisle. "I swear, he's just going to sit on his butt and play video games all day and not help me with this! Doesn't he understand how stressful this is?"

Bridgette sighed on the other end of the phone. "No, I don't think he understands how big of a deal this is to you. He is a boy after all. And, well, he's also Duncan."

Courtney quickly scooped up several cans of tomato sauce and dumped them unceremoniously into her cart. "It's just – our parents are coming to our home. It's very, very …"

"Grown up?" Bridgette finished for her, and Courtney nodded even though she couldn't see.

"And I feel like they'll be judging my worth based on how I pull this off." She admitted.

Her friend lightly chuckled. "But your parents will be there as well. You know they love you no matter what – dirty shower, burnt turkey and all."

Courtney stopped in her tracks, partly because of what Bridgette said, and partly to load her cart full of soda. "No they won't."

"You're being unreasonable."

She grunted as she heaved a big 24 pack of Coke Zero into her cart. "You're being unreasonable," she countered.

Bridgette sighed, but paused. "Oh hold on a sec."

"Wait, what?" Courtney asked, but to no avail. She was put on hold. With a scowl, she continued to load her cart with sodas. When she was finished, it was even harder to push.

After a moment, Bridgette came back. "Sorry about that. Gwen called."

"Oh?" Courtney questioned.

"Yep!" A third voice said. "And she changed it to a three way call."

Courtney's dark eyebrows knitted together. "Hi, Gwen."

"Don't sound too happy now." Gwen teased.

"Courtney's having a stressful holiday season," Bridgette explained. "She just needs time to vent."

"Aww," the Goth girl said, "what's the matter, Court?"

Courtney couldn't tell if she was sincere. She set her jaw and stared down the meat section. "Our families are staying with us for Thanksgiving and Duncan's being an ass."

"You say it as though Duncan's not always an ass," Gwen said with a slight laugh in her voice.

Courtney growled. "Shut it, Wednesday Adams!"

There was a long pause.

"…Wednesday Adams?" Gwen finally echoed. She paused again. "What … what year is this?"

Bridgette laughed, long and hard.

"No seriously. I'm concerned now." Gwen said. "I didn't walk into some sort of space/time warp and it's suddenly 1991 again, is it?"

This only spurred on Bridgette's laughter.

Courtney just shook her head and rolled her eyes. "I'm sorry girls, but I have a lot on my plate today. I'll catch you both later." She flipped her phone closed and stuck in her pocket.

This was going to be a long three days.


As he vacuumed, Duncan couldn't figure out why Courtney was making such a big deal out of cleaning. It wasn't rocket science or anything. And yeah, while he did break a sweat scrubbing the shower, it wasn't the freaking end of the world. He just put his headphones in his ears, turned on his iPod, and got to work. And vacuuming wasn't that bad; it wasn't his idea of fun, and yeah, he was breaking a sweat again, but there was a slight satisfaction in seeing the immediate improvement in their pink carpet. Very slight, but still satisfying none the less.

He was surprised when a loud banging noise caught his attention over the music blaring through the ear buds. He turned, not bothering to turn off the vacuum, to see Courtney standing in the doorway, bags of groceries around her feet, their contents dispersed across the floor. Her mouth was practically hanging down to her feet, and her pretty brown eyes were staring at him like he was a ghost.

He turned the vacuum off and plucked the ear bud out of his right ear. "Welcome back, Princess."

Now, while he had expected her to be grateful for helping around the house, he didn't expect her to turn into a tigress and run at him full speed, knocking him flat on his back on the ground. And he certainly didn't expect his little princess to thank him the way that she did; not on the living room floor like that, with the front door wide open and groceries rolling into the hall.

He was going to have to start vacuuming more often.


Courtney had practically pushed Duncan in the shower, telling him that he needed to be presentable for when their parents arrived. He had tried to argue that he'd never worried about being "presentable" for either set of parents before, but when she had her mind set on something there really wasn't any way to get her to change it.

The biggest hassle he had faced that morning when trying to clean the shower had been moving all of her freaking bath products around. Practically ever empty space in the shower was covered in some sort of gel or soap or something that he had never even heard of. He figured, roughly, she probably spent forty dollars a month on stuff to use in the bath.

Such a freaking waste.

He picked up a small container that said "Gingerbread Man" on it and snapped open the lid, inhaling. Sure enough, it smelled a lot like a gingerbread cookie. Deciding he didn't want to spend the day smelling like a cookie, he opted for a bar of soap; just a standard bar of regular soap that didn't smell one way or the other.

Duncan couldn't understand why Courtney would waste her money on all the other products. Oh, and on those smutty romance novels she thought he didn't know about.

She kept them hidden in her underwear drawer, of all places. Why she thought that would be the one drawer he'd never go in, he didn't know. It was her freaking underwear drawer, for God's sake – of course he was in it the first moment he was alone in the apartment.

He had thumbed through a couple of the novels. They were the cheesiest, stupidest things he'd ever seen; they had the funniest names for the male anatomy. Honestly, he'd read through them and just laugh and laugh.

And occasionally take some notes.

When he finished his shower and smelled rather neutral, he got dressed in his standard wear and left the bedroom. Courtney was in the kitchen, an apron around her waist, and her hands in some sort of dough on the counter.

He smirked when he saw her looking so domestic, and walked into the kitchen. "Watcha doin?"

"Baking," she answered shortly.

Duncan put his arms around her waist and rested his chin on her shoulder. "Whatcha baking?"


He titled his head slightly, watching her knead the dough. "Why?"

"Because I won't have time to bake tomorrow and there has to be pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving." She responded. "Also, it will make the house smell good for when they get here."

"Ooooh," He teased, moving over to the fridge and pulling out a soda, "the ominous 'they'."

She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. "What an impressive sentence for such a small little brain to form."

Duncan stuck his tongue out at her before taking a sip of his soda. He watched her for a moment longer. She was biting her lip as she rolled out the dough. "You look cute like that."

She moved hair out of her face, inadvertently rubbing flour onto her forehead and all over her Flash Band Aid. "Like what?"

He waved his hand. "Like that. All – bakery."

Courtney snorted before turning her attention back to the dough in front of her, trying to her hide her pink cheeks. "Whatever."

Duncan continued to stare at her, sipping at his soda. After a moment, he discreetly stuck his hand in the flour bag, grabbing a handful. Chuckling to himself, he threw the flour ball in her face.

She froze on her feet, eyes and mouth closed from shock. When she finally opened her mouth it was to blow flour out from between her lips. "You're going to die." She said calmly, and before Duncan even had time to properly laugh at her face, she had cracked an egg on his head, the yolk drizzling down and hitting his nose.

"Oh," Duncan said, putting his soda on the counter, "its war now, Princess."

After that, it was blurry of flour and egg and milk and dough. At some point Courtney had run to the freezer and pulled out the chocolate ice cream and smeared it into his face, while he took the remnants of the pumpkin pie filling she planned on using and dumped them down her shirt. She screamed at the cold substance on her back. "You're such a jerk, Duncan!"

He grabbed her with his pie filling laden hands and kissed her roughly on the lips. "But I'm your jerk, Princess."

There was a loud knock on the door. Both Courtney and Duncan looked at it with wide, surprised eyes.

"Ohmigosh! OH NO!" Courtney whispered in a panic. "They can't be here already! I'm …" she looked down at herself, "apparently a yeti, the kitchen is a mess, and there isn't a pie in the oven!"

There was another loud knock and Courtney whimpered.

Duncan rubbed her upper arms sympathetically. "Do you – do you want me to answer it?"

She nodded, tears in her eyes.

Inhaling deeply, Duncan made it over to the front door. He reached for the doorknob, flour flaking off his arm as he did so, and carefully opened the door. There stood Courtney's parents, her father in front of her mother. He was a tall, brown haired man with green eyes. Her mother stood behind him, her head peaking over her father's shoulder. She was much shorter, with brown skin and black hair. She let out a gasp when she saw Duncan.

Apparently, he also looked like a yeti.

Martin Shepherd eyed him up and down before letting out a quiet, disapproving sigh. "Hello again, felon."

He grinned. "Hello, Mr. Shepherd. Your daughter and I were just baking a pie."

Martin raised an eyebrow, a look of annoyance plastered on his well groomed face. "I hate to break this to you, but you were doing it wrong."


Lisa, Courtney's mother, had started helping Courtney clean up the kitchen, laughing good naturedly as she did so. But first, she had taken a picture of the two of them in the mess of a kitchen: Courtney hiding her face behind her hands and Duncan smiling like the Cheshire Cat. Duncan had the pleasure of giving her father the grand tour of the apartment, which struck Duncan as somewhat funny, considering he had gotten the apartment for them, but had never actually seen it. Every step Duncan took left a white foot print in the recently vacuumed carpet.

He would've found that annoying if the whole situation wasn't really, really funny.

Martin had quickly peaked into the master bedroom but had flat out refused to step inside. Apparently, the thought of his daughter and Duncan sharing that room was enough for him to become so completely uncomfortable he'd rather pretend that room didn't exist.

Duncan would've pushed the issue, just to get on Martin's nerves, if he wasn't hoping to get more on the man's good side during this little visit.

He was going to have a serious, sit down talk with him next month; he really wanted to be on his good side for that talk alone - and then he could immediately go back to being on his bad side for all he cared.

"So," Duncan said, clapping his hands together, noting with a grin the puff of white that formed because of the motion, "I guess you and Lisa will be in the guest room. Aaaand, if you don't need anything else, I'm gonna jump in the shower."

After twenty minutes of scrubbing in his second shower of the day, Courtney was missing (probably in the other bathroom) and Lisa was vacuuming. Martin was sitting on the couch, a beer in his hand, watching the news on mute. He noticed, vaguely, there was another one sitting on the coffee table, unopened, as he sat down next to Martin on the couch.

The district attorney nodded at it, and Duncan took the invitation, happily sipping at the drink.

He got him a beer. That was a good sign. Well, it was probably Lisa who got him the beer. But, anyway, Martin had motioned towards it. "So," he said, over the vacuum, "how was the drive?"

He shrugged, uninterested, and stared at the TV screen.

Duncan inwardly sighed and bit his tongue.

Three days. Only three days. Just keep your damn mouth shut for three days.

The vacuum stopped and Lisa smiled at them from behind the dining room table. "Okay, I got all your foot prints off the floor."

He stood up, putting his drink on the coffee table and walking over to her. "Thank you, Lisa," Duncan said, wrapping up the cord for her. "Go sit down – make yourself at home. I'll put this up." She kissed his cheek, surprising the rebel a little, before cuddling up next to her husband on the couch.

After a moment, the second bathroom door cracked open. "Um," Courtney's voice squeaked, "Duncan?"

"Hm?" He called, wheeling the vacuum back to their closet.

"Can … can you bring me some clothes?"


Courtney sighed and fixed her eyes on the news. Her parents were snuggling on the couch – which was really, really gross – and she and Duncan had been resigned to the two recliners. His parents were due to arrive at any minute and she was nervous. Not for herself; Duncan's parents absolutely adored her and went out of their way to say so. They thought she was a good influence on their wayward son and encouraged their relationship. She even spoke with his mother once a week over the phone. She was nervous because it was the first time her parents met his parents.

She wrung her hands in her lap, and glanced out of the corner of her eye at Duncan.

It was a really, really big step in their relationship and he had pushed for it.

She supposed she should have had this kind of nervousness when they moved in together, but she hadn't. Yes, they had been together – technically official – for four years and had known each other for over five. But without their parents ever meeting …

Well, with the coming together of the "ominous they" (as Duncan had put it), it legitimized their playing house. Now, suddenly, they weren't playing house anymore.

They were a real, legitimate couple that lived together in the same house; so much so that their families came to their home to visit.

Her heart was pounding in her chest. Who knew she'd suddenly be afraid of commitment?

There was knock on the door and before Courtney could stop her tongue she heard herself say, "I'll get it!" She paused when the three other people looked at her curiously, realizing she had practically shouted. She chuckled nervously, and scrambled to her feet. With one last smile back at her family, she broke out in a run to the door.

She put her hand on the handle and took a moment to collect herself, inhaling and holding her breath. With a loud exhale, she opened the door.

Duncan's parents stood, side by side in the hallway, smiling at her. His father was a shorter man, with dark hair and glasses. His mother was even shorter than his father, with big blue eyes and short blond hair.

"Courtney!" Marian greeted, pulling her into a hug. "You look wonderful! Oh! What happened to your forehead?"

Courtney's eyes went wide and she touched the band aid that was covering the pimple that she completely forgot about. "Oh, um," she chuckled nervously again, "there was a … baking incident."

His parents stepped in past her, his father closing the door. "You bake?" Alex questioned.

"Not, um, not very often. Hence the need for a bandage," she laughed as she pointed at her forehead. Her laughter trailed off and she shook her head. "Well, um, you guys just set your luggage there. We'll get it later. And, um, you want to meet my parents?"

She didn't wait for their response before leading them into the open living room. Her parents rose from the couch, and within seconds the parents were shaking hands.

She and Duncan stood off to the side, watching.

After the obligatory, "my name is" and "how do you do"s there was a quiet silence.

And then, all at once, there was a loud explosion of conversation, the mothers talking to the mothers and the fathers talking to the fathers. They were all talking to each other like they had known each other for years, and before she could even do anything, their fathers were sitting on the couch, chatting away, and her mother was giving his mother a tour of the apartment.

She felt her eyes go wide and turned to face Duncan. He stared back at her a moment before shrugging a shoulder.

"Huh," she finally managed.

He nodded in agreement. "Yeah. Huh."


November 27th

Thanksgiving Day

Sleeping arrangements had not worked out to Duncan's favor. His parents were sleeping in their bedroom; and her parents were in the guest bedroom. Which left them on the air mattress on the living room floor. Which wouldn't have been so bad if the air mattress wasn't a full size, instead of their usual king, and wasn't the cheapest air mattress Wal-Mart had to offer.

Ever single, tiny, insignificant twitch Courtney made in her sleep rocked his body back and forth. At some point during the night he had spooned her – a little too roughly – to just stop her from moving. He was tired, moving on to exhaustion, and it seemed like she couldn't even breathe without making the cheap mattress bounce up and down.

It felt like he had just fallen asleep when he started hearing doors opening and closing and people whispering around him.

He felt a hand on his cheek and slowly blinked his eyes open.

Courtney was standing above him, completely dressed, with a smile on her face. "It's time to get up, Duncan."

He blinked a few more times at her before propping himself up on his elbows. Their parents were across the room, seated at the dining room table, drinking coffee and talking quietly.

"What time is it?" He croaked out, suddenly thirsty.

She smiled slightly. "Six thirty."

He groaned. "This is going to be a long day, isn't it?"

Courtney nodded. "The longest."


Duncan put his hands behind his head, a cocky smile on his face. He should've guessed their fathers would get along famously. They had something in common, after all: their mutual dislike of Duncan.

"I can't tell you all the mess we had to clean after his 'Nude Year's Eve' Party," His father said with a shake of his head. He pushed his glasses further up his nose with his index finger. "Just ridiculous."

Courtney's father snorted. "Tell me about it. I had to reason with an idiotic country music fan because Duncan punched him in the face and broke his nose at a concert. He was threatening to sue."

His father paused. "Country music? Duncan hates country music."

"Well, since he broke somebody's nose at a country music concert, I'd have to agree with you there."

Duncan cleared his throat, causing both men to look at him from the couch. "You know, I'm right here. You don't have to talk about me like I'm not there. And about the concert," he turned his focus to Martin, "your daughter dragged me there and that 'idiotic fan' had grabbed her butt. He deserved the broken nose."

They stared at him for a moment longer, but Duncan just scowled.

Martin shook his head. "You know, Alex," he said to Duncan's father, "I was rather impressed with your son when he managed to get a well paying job at that bike shop. If Courtney's tuition wasn't so astronomical, he would be able to support the both of them quite comfortably."

Duncan's face felt hot, which surprised him as much as it unnerved him.

Duncan Davis does not blush.

He leaned back in his recliner and closed his eyes.

"Courtney told us he got to design and build a custom bike for the new Iron Man film," Alex agreed. "We were very proud."

"Yes, I believe she mentioned that to us as well. They keep him busy over there."

Duncan's face was arm again, be he ignored it and glared through his closed eyes. He felt a sudden surge of caveman like pride course through him.

Me provide good for woman.

There was a pause in their fathers' conversation.

Finally his dad sighed. "Did I tell you about the time he filled the high school's pool with jello? And then he used the bathroom in that poor kid's tuba…"

Duncan quickly stood up and left the room, deciding to help the women in the kitchen.


Courtney had never blushed so much in her entire life. Their mothers were chatting away like old friends. They were kindred spirits; kind souls who were practically born with their maternal instincts raring and ready to rule their lives.

Apparently, both mothers had some none too subtle grandmother aspirations.

Courtney mashed the potatoes harder than necessary, her knuckles white as she held on to the handle of the masher for all she was worth. Her cheeks were so hot they were burning.

"You know, I only had two boys," Marian, Duncan's mother, began as she basted the turkey, "and I would love to have a little granddaughter. Girl baby clothes are just so adorable!"

Lisa giggled her agreement. "It was so much fun to shop for Courtney when she was little. I do miss all the cute little dresses."

Out of the corner of her eye, Courtney noticed Duncan approaching the kitchen.

"I've always liked the name Tiffany," Marian admitted, putting the turkey back in the oven. "Oh, or Lauren."

Lisa nodded. "When I was pregnant, I was torn between Courtney and Addison."

Duncan joined them in the kitchen, leaning against the counter next to his girlfriend. She felt him look at her with a smug grin on his face. "You really hate lumps in your mashed potatoes, hmm?"

She looked at him with wide, terrified eyes.

His dark eyebrows narrowed in confusion before he turned to look at their mothers flutter about the kitchen, calling out different names they liked. "What are they talking about?"

"Grandchildren," she squeaked.

He froze and their mothers stopped their activity to look at them curiously.

"Like … ours?"

She nodded.

There was a knock on the door, and Duncan shrugged, stepping away from the counter. "I like the name Addison, too."

Their mothers "aww"ed, but Courtney glared fiercely at him as he walked away. "Not helpful," she managed, pounding into the unsuspecting potatoes.

He just smirked at her before heading the front door.


When Duncan opened the door, his smirk lost its confident edge. "Daniel," he greeted.

"Little brother," Daniel greeted back, a small smile on his face.

Daniel was tall and well behaved, handsome and well educated. He was a blond haired, blue eyed jackass.

"You gonna let me in or what?"

Duncan opened the door further and Daniel brushed past him into the apartment. He gave an approving nod. "Nice place," he said, thrusting his duffle bag in Duncan's arms. "I'm surprised."

"Hi, sweetie!" Marian said from the kitchen.

He turned his head and smiled at her. "Hi, mom," he said as he walked towards her. He kissed her cheek.

Duncan scowled, dropping the duffle bag harshly on the floor. His father got off the couch and headed towards the kitchen, Courtney's father in tow.

Daniel turned his eyes on Courtney and smiled at her. "You must be Courtney. Mom never stops talking about you." She offered him her hand to shake, and instead he kissed the back of it.

Duncan felt a growl form in his throat. He swallowed over it and settled on glaring at the back of his brother's head.

Courtney blinked up at him with wide eyes. "And you're … Duncan's brother?"

He nodded, a smile on his face, still holding her hand.

Alex brushed past Duncan and entered the kitchen.

"Are you sure Duncan's not adopted?" She questioned.

"Unfortunately," Alex mumbled, pulling Daniel into a hug.

Courtney blinked again at the two of them, a look of surprise and annoyance on her face. "Unfortunately?" she echoed.

"Daniel, meet Lisa and Martin," Alex introduced his son. "Martin is a district attorney in New York."

Daniel shook Martin's hand. "Nice to meet you, sir."

"Nice to meet you as well," Martin said and sounded sincere. "I hear you work as a police officer like your mother and father."

The conversation continued on, the men talking while the women worked. Duncan's father couldn't praise Daniel enough and Martin was interested in everything he had to say.

Duncan had a sneaking suspicion Martin was only interested because he thought it might piss him off – and Duncan was not going to give Martin that satisfaction. Good side or no, he was not going to be jealous of his brother just because his girlfriend's father seemed to approve of him. So, Duncan just crossed his arms against his chest.

Courtney caught his eye and winked at him.

Involuntarily, he smiled back at her.


The Thanksgiving feast the women had prepared was delicious. Duncan tried his damndest to focus on the food and not the conversation. His brother was being the center of attention, sharing stories that Duncan supposed were meant to embarrass him. He wasn't, of course. The only person that mattered at the table already knew most of them, and even if she didn't know it wasn't like she was going to kick him out of the apartment.

Still, everyone was laughing, because apparently the idea of Duncan sleeping with a teddy bear until he was 13 was just hilarious. He scowled into his roll, sparing a sideways glance at Martin.

Martin had a good natured smile on his face, staring at Duncan in an odd sort of way.

Duncan resisted the urge to glare at him and briefly wondered to himself why Courtney's father's approval was so important to him. He pushed the thought aside when Courtney took her hand in his.

She smiled at him, a twinkle in her eye, and he prayed to God in heaven she wouldn't mention the fact that he still owned that teddy bear.

Daniel kicked his shin under the table, and Duncan let out a surprised yelp, quickly looking away from Courtney. His brother grinned at him, and Duncan just rolled his eyes and threw his roll at his brother's unsuspecting face.


When dinner had finished, the parents had offered to clean up. Courtney had protested valiantly, even helping to clear some of the table on her own. Eventually, Lisa had made Duncan take Courtney into the living room. She had struggled against him to the point where he had to sit on her on the couch to keep her still.

"Duncan!" She hissed. "Get your bony butt off me!"

He grinned and pushed himself harder into her lap. "Not a chance, princess."

She poked him hard in the sides. "Get off me now!"

He looked over his shoulder at her. "Only if you promise to behave."

Courtney huffed loudly. "Me behave?!"

"Yes," he smiled, "you behave. No going into the kitchen."

She narrowed her dark eyes in a glare and opened her mouth to speak, but his brother reached out a hand and grabbed Duncan by his ear, effectively pulling him off Courtney. "Honestly, little brother, why she stays with you I can't figure out."

Duncan growled as he pried his brother's fingers away from his ear. "Damn it, Dan!"

Courtney took this as her only opportunity and made a mad dash for the kitchen.

Duncan punched his brother in the arm. "Jackass."

Dan punched Duncan back. "Moron."

Duncan rolled his shoulders back and shook his head. "Now I gotta wrestle her outta the kitchen again. Thanks a lot, Dan."

"No," his brother said, grabbing his arm. "Let her do what she wants. It's her apartment."

He glared at him. "It's my apartment."

His brother flashed an arrogant smirk. "Right. I'm sure your name is on the lease."

Duncan paused momentarily.

"No?" His brother questioned. "Just Courtney? Or … is it Courtney and her father?" Daniel let out a small laugh. "So you have absolutely no ownership of your apartment at all! Man, little brother, you are stupid."

Duncan's eyes flashed red and before he knew it, he had knocked his brother on the ground, both hands around his neck.

He got in a couple of good punches – though his brother did get in a sucker punch before Alex and Martin came running out of the kitchen, pulling them apart.

"Damn it, Duncan," his father scolded, examining Daniel's bleeding nose. "Can't you behave yourself for two stinking days?"

Duncan wiped the blood off his lips with the back of his hand before grinning at his dad. "Trust me. This is behaving myself."


Courtney sighed at her reflection and fingered the Band-Aid on her forehead. Thanksgiving was over, and she had survived, relatively unscathed. Their mothers had complemented her on her ability to keep house and had threatened to take her 'black Friday' shopping.

She hoped they were joking.

Courtney quickly brushed threw her hair again before leaving the second bathroom and walking into the living room. Daniel was laying down on the couch, Duncan on that cursed air mattress. She crawled in next to him, quickly curling up at his side to get warm.

Daniel grunted when Duncan held her. "Look guys, I'm right above you. So no funny stuff, ok? I want to be able to keep my food down."

Duncan smirked at him. "Sorry, Dan. It's my place, my girlfriend … seems to me I can do what I want."

Daniel narrowed his blue eyes in a glare. "Try anything and my bare ass will be on your face so freaking quick."

Duncan's smile grew wider. "Oooh! I'm so scared!"

Courtney grunted and rolled away from Duncan. "You two idiots shut up. It's bed time."

The boys exchanged a few more grunts and growls before shutting up. She heard Dan roll over on the couch, and Duncan threw his arm over her waist, pulling her body flush against his.

"Good night, Princess."

"Good night, Delinquent."


November 28th

It seemed like only minutes after she had fallen asleep that somebody was shaking her awake. Courtney groaned and rubbed her eyes.

"What?" she snapped.

"Come on, honey," her mother's voice whispered. "We're going shopping."

Courtney's eyes shot open.

"You're kidding."

She wasn't.

She was so serious that it was painful. Courtney had to wait outside in the freezing cold for the local mall to open up. Her mother, herself, and Duncan's mother all huddled together in the massive line at five o'clock in the morning. When they finally made it inside, their mothers had taken off in a mad dash towards Macy's. Courtney was much more lethargic about the whole deal, shuffling through the mall like a zombie.

Fortunately, a wonderful man had opened up a coffee stand, and Courtney greedily drank her cup empty while looking around for something somewhat entertaining. She was caught off guard when she noticed a costume store next to the Build a Bear Workshop. She hadn't seen the costume store there before, and she would've noticed it, because she loved to build the occasional bear.

Plus, they had been costuming shopping last month for something to wear to Geoff's Halloween party, and finding nothing, had waited until they were in Canada to buy costumes.

Having nothing better to do, Courtney walked around the small costume store. They had everything there – vampire costumes, slutty costumes, insect costumes, superhero costumes.

Courtney froze. Superhero costumes?

An evil grin spread across her features as she searched the racks. Suddenly, her morning wasn't so painful after all.


The three of them returned back to Courtney's apartment around ten o'clock that morning. Duncan's parents had a flight at twelve thirty and his mother was certain she didn't want to miss it. The boys hadn't killed each other while the women were gone; instead someone had cooked eggs and bacon, leaving all the dishes in the sink.

Daniel and Duncan were playing Halo 3 on the living room TV, and Alex and Martin were talking to each other over cups of coffee at the dining room table.

Marian had immediately started packing up their things, encouraging Daniel to do the same. Daniel had tried arguing that since he drove there from Canada he didn't need to leave at the same time as anyone else, but Marian had flashed him that look that only a mother can give, and Daniel had hurriedly got off the video game.

Courtney made sure to hide her bag to the costume store from Duncan, sticking it in their bedroom closet. When she stepped out of their bedroom, everyone was gathered at the front door, Marian putting on a scarf.

"Thank you so much for having us, Courtney!" She called across the apartment.

Courtney smiled and walked over to them. Marian brought her into a big hug, kissing her cheek. "We love you."

Courtney tried to hide her blush. "Love you too," she managed, hoping she sounded sincere.

Marian let go of her and Courtney was just brought into another hug by Alex. "You keep our boy in line, okay?"

She nodded into his shoulder. "Will do."

When Alex let go of her Daniel brought her into a crushing hug. "You know, you can always give me a call if things go south," he whispered rather loudly in her ear.

Duncan grabbed her by the scruff of her shirt and pulled her out of Daniel's arms, scowling.

Daniel just let out a loud laugh.

Their moms gave each other hugs good bye, while their fathers settled on handshakes. And very quickly, all of Duncan's family had left.

The apartment grew quiet, and Martin let out a sigh. "I think we should be going too, Lisa. That way we'll get home before nightfall."

Lisa nodded, a small smile on her face. "I'm packed and ready to go." She brought Duncan into a hug. "You guys are coming up our way for New Years Eve, right?"

Duncan grinned like a Cheshire cat. "Wouldn't miss it, Lisa."

Martin eyed him suspiciously, but didn't say anything. When Lisa let go of Duncan to give Courtney a hug, Martin offered him his hand. "It wasn't too terrible of a visit, felon."

Duncan nodded, returning the handshake. "Thanks for coming, Mr. Shepherd."

Martin hugged his daughter and kissed her cheek, and within seconds, it was just Duncan and Courtney in their apartment.

She sighed and looked around. "Is it just me, or does our apartment suddenly feel huge?"

He stuck his hands in his pockets and shrugged. "I'm just happy they're gone. Let's never do that again."

Courtney glared at him playfully. "It was your idea!"

Duncan shook his head. "No it wasn't."

"Yes," she nodded. "It was. And I said it was a horrible idea. And you said, 'No it's not.' And then everybody came."

Duncan just shook his head again. "Nah-uh."

"Whatever!" She exclaimed, throwing her hands in the air. "OH! I got you a present!"

Courtney smiled and started walking to their bedroom, Duncan following behind. "What kind of present?" He asked, a hopeful note in his voice.

She reached the closet and pulled out her recent purchase, throwing the bag at Duncan. He raised an eyebrow at her before retrieving her purchase from the bag. He held up the costume and raised another eyebrow at her.

In his hands he held a Wonder Woman costume, star spangled stars and stripes and all. "Uh, Princess? I hate to break this to you, but this is not my size."

She ripped the costume away from him before smiling mischievously. "It's not for you to wear, Duncan."

He looked at her curiously for a long moment. And then, all at once, realization dawned on him. He grinned broadly, baring all his teeth. "I love Thanksgiving."

Reviews do inspire me to write[/hint]

OH and!! Who can guess where the 'Gingerbread Man' shower gel Duncan smells in the shower comes from? Because, it is a real product, and it really does smell like a gingerbread man cookie!