I fail. Epically. Anyway, for TheNocturne's contest. I will not place. She will sigh at my sad attempt. Happy Holidays anyway!

Kuki was determined. Christmas Eve meant family, and her family was her friends. They were not going to bail on her this time, even if it meant she had to drag them from their homes by their ears. She hadn't seen them for months, and phone calls were not a replacement for their faces. College was hard, she of all people knew that, but was it so difficult to stop in and say 'hi' now and then? Bracing herself, the petite Asian grasped the cordless phone and dialed. The obnoxious orange buttons made her more nauseous than she already was.

"Lincoln residence, Cree speaking." Kuki slammed her finger on the 'End Call' button. Childhood fears didn't easily vaporize, apparently. Didn't matter. If she got Hoagie to come over, he'd get the message to Abby anyway. Her slim fingers flew over the buttons again, tapping out a new combination of digits.

"Heya Kuki." She let out a breath of relief at the fact that the Gilligans had Caller ID and would always send Hoagie to answer the phone when they knew she was calling. It saved her from talking to the terror known as Tommy, who was convinced she had a long-standing crush on his big brother.

"You wanna help me out?" Without waiting for an answer, she hurried onward. "I want all of my friends over tonight, maybe watch a movie or something, but Wally's not answering his cell and Cree keeps picking up at Abby's and I'm scared of her."

A long pause, during which Kuki began to gnaw her lower lip ragged. Finally, Hoagie answered. "Yeah, okay. Sorry about the wait, I was telling my mom where I was going. I'll get them. See you soon."

"Thanks Hoags. You're the best." Kuki breathed, glad that luck seemed to be favoring her plans at last.

She considered kicking off her threadbare Rainbow Monkey slippers, but decided against it. Her friends had seen them before, and they were comfortable. She told herself this as she slid across the kitchen linoleum and giggled. And they're fun. Stretching to reach the candy canes she'd saved for her hot chocolate (because her friends told her she was strange for stirring it with peppermint and her family had agreed, she had to hide her personal stash of them.) she remembered a rather important fact about the doorway of her house. A sprig of mistletoe had been strategically placed there by Mushi this morning in an effort to create awkwardness when Kuki's friends arrived later that night, while the rest of their family went out to dinner. Mushi was currently upstairs, neither upset nor happy that Kuki planned on three people coming over. But the mistletoe would have to go.

The doorbell rang just as Kuki had her small hand wrapped around the plant. Yanking it down quickly, she swung open the mahogany to greet Abby and Hoagie, frosted with snow but grinning brightly at her. She stepped to the right to let them in and brandished the branch in her hand.

"You guys just barely missed the mistletoe. You're welcome."

Abby was smacking her ice encrusted hat against thick blue jeans when she looked at her friend, a cheeky smirk in place. "And if Abby wouldn't have minded?" Hoagie spluttered, frozen in the act of removing his long, sky-colored scarf.

"Abigail!" he scolded "You said we wouldn't tell them yet!"

Kuki, who had been standing on her tiptoes, peering out the peephole of the door for a certain blonde Australian, whipped around. "Tell what?" She needn't have asked, as her Abby had taken the opportunity to steal a kiss. They broke apart to Kuki's delighted (if somewhat sarcastic) clapping.

Abby was beaming madly while Hoagie turned a shade of beetroot. Kuki grasped Abby by the arm and walked her upstairs. "When did this happen?" was the squeal heard behind the locked door of Kuki's bedroom. Abby shrugged.

"Yesterday." She answered vaguely. "Who knows, maybe Santa'll leave you a Wally in your stocking." Kuki blushed.

"I'm that obvious?"

Abby chuckled, leading the way out downstairs. "Not to him."

Meanwhile, Hoagie had made himself quite at home in the Sanban's kitchen. He spotted Kuki's half made mug of cocoa with the tell-tale candy canes next to it and snorted, amused. Seizing one for himself, he began raiding her cabinets for popcorn. Finding a brightly colored box rattling with three microwave bags, he was about to unwrap the first when someone knocked on the door.

Peppermint stick dangling from his fingertips, Hoagie answered it to find one out of breath Wallabee Beetles on Kuki's doorstep. His face was flushed with cold as Hoagie stepped aside to let him in, glancing at the stairs to find Abby and Kuki paused on the seventh and ninth step.

"Wally!" was the outcry as Kuki pushed past chocolate skinned girl, who was smiling in an 'I knew it' way. The blonde was tackled in the middle of taking off his gloves.

Stumbling backward, Wally stuttered "Kuks, Ah can' breath!" She released him, a tad embarrassed, but recovered quickly, despite the other two giggling under their breath.

"How come you didn't answer your phone?" she asked, her tone accusatory. To Kuki's immense surprise, he laughed.

"Joey decided that mah phone needed ta meet his old pogostick. An', ya know him," Wally illustrated the scene with his hands. "Boing, boing, SMASH!" he slapped his callused palms together, effectively crushing the imaginary cell phone between them. "But Hoagie told me ta be here," he glanced at his watch "five minutes ago. So Ah ran."

Something about this didn't sit right with her. Frowning as they trekked one by one to her kitchen, Kuki pulled Hoagie aside. "If his phone is broken, how'd you tell him to be here?"

He rolled his eyes. "Kuki, we're here every year. Wally's the only one who ever forgets the time, so I write it on his hand." He clapped a hand on her shoulder in a brotherly way. "You're predictable." Leaving her to halfheartedly glare after him, Hoagie stuffed his hands in pockets and continued to the kitchen, humming an unidentifiable classic rock piece. Mumbling about her unpredictability, Kuki followed. Abby had finished unwrapping the popcorn Hoagie had abandoned and it was now rotating in the microwave, snapping loudly. Abby herself was perched on the counter beside the stove, patiently waiting for the beep. Wally was leaned against the sink, arms folded across his broad chest, green eyes fixed on the expanding popcorn bag in the microwave.

Fifteen minutes into the cheesy holiday movie, the popcorn was abandoned by all but Wally, who was so engrossed in counting the snowflakes that hit the window, he didn't notice he was eating kernels. Kuki, who was sitting next to him on the couch (Abby had claimed the floor. Hoagie; the armchair next to her.), gently pulled his hand away from his mouth and showed him what he had been about to eat. He tossed them into the bowl and set it on the floor. As he settled comfortably into the sofa, Kuki pushed her boundaries and leaned into his shoulder. When this action prompted no more than a raised eyebrow, Kuki released a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding. Allowing herself to fully rest against Wally, she felt his arm creep hesitantly around her shoulder. Heart flipping, Kuki looked at him, only to find his eyes glued to the tv. His face however, was tinted red across his nose and cheeks. She inwardly giggled at the fact that even in their college days, they still reacted to each other this way. Kuki tucked her legs underneath her and began dozing off. Abby and Hoagie would tease them when the movie ended, and Mushi would probably come down with a water pistol to break them up later, but it would all be worth it, just for this moment. Her last thought before nodding off was along the lines of; Maybe this year…?

Ha, just realized that I had Wally glance at his phone that he just explained was busted. Oops. Me fixy now.

Ugh. I cannot write Kuki/Wally stuff. I've been writing the more subtle couple for how long now?

Love always,