So this is Christmas
By Maureen

Music and lyrics by John Lennon.

For Bea. Sorry about the lateness. Based off of the world created by MC in her fic __?__.

***

So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun

Jamie sat in front of the TV in the living room idly flipping channels. He hated "It's a Wonderful Life" and all the other Christmas hoo-ha and was looking for anything decent. Jerry Springer would be good. Or Battle Bots. Anything.

He really wasn't too fond of Christmas. It wasn't that he didn't get presents, he always had many. Mostly gift certificates to his favorite stores. It was easier for his parents to let him pick out his presents than to actually go into stores like Hot Topic for more than a minute or two.

There wasn't even a tree up for the presents to sit under. The envelopes with his gift certificates sat on the narrow table behind the sofa where Jamie sat, untouched. There were two small boxes with them, but Jamie just didn't care. Maybe he would just leave everything on the table without opening them and see how long it took his parents to notice.

The problem was he was alone. His brother, Peter, was away on a special school trip delousing orphans in Ethiopia or some such nonsense and his parents were at a Christmas retreat. Read "party for really rich people with waaaay too much alcohol to allow guest to leave in less than 2 days." It wasn't that he wanted them around per se, he spent most of his time trying to get them to leave him alone or avoiding them, but there was something to be said about family during the holiday season.

They were going to be gone for New Years too. Skiing with the govenor in Colorado. Great way for his tax dollars to be spent.

Finally sick of flipping channels and bored beyond what he thought to be humanly possibly, he headed to the kitchen to get food. It was barely 10am, but Christmas dinner was going to be his breakfast. Food would be mildly entertaining for the few minutes it took to nuke and eat it.

Every year the cook felt sorry for him staying alone, so she always made a small turkey or ham for him with the trimmings. Stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, this delicious jello and fruit thing and (of course) the pie of his choice. This year he had picked cherry. He liked the bitter-sweet taste. Of course, he was never invited to go to her house. The cook had worked for his family since before he was born and Jamie didn't even know her first name or where she lived. She had always been "Mrs. Jackson" and he had always been "James".

He pulled out the various tupper ware dishes and piled the food onto his plate before putting it in the microwave. While it was nuking he retrieved the book he was currently reading.

He sighed. Nuked Christmas dinner and a book for company. He needed a dog. Or family. Family would be better than a dog. At least Catie had said she would stop by later that afternoon. He wasn't expecting much from that though. Sure, she was his best friend, the closest thing he had to a sister, but it just wasn't quite the same. She would be leaving her family to be with him and that wasn't right. Damn it, how hard was it for his parents to understand that Christmas was about family! Even if they didn't like each other, they still got together. It was an unwritten rule in the 'How To Be a Family Handbook'.

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young.

Val looked around the living room, wrapping paper strewn all over the floor, It's a Wonderful Life playing in the background, her parents drinking coffee and Brooke had just made hot cocoa. It was a good Christmas.

There had not been many gifts this year, or very expensive ones, but Val wasn't complaining. She knew that it wasn't the amount of presents or how much was spent, but the thought, that counted. Her favorite present had been the stationary set she had been ogling at the mall for a few weeks.

*Riiing riing*

"Val, honey, would you get the phone?" her mom asked, taking some of the wrapping paper to the trash can.

"Hello?" she asked, wondering who would be calling at 10am on Christmas Day.

"Val? It's Catie." The voice on the other end was her best friend and confidante. The only person that truly understood her, accepted her and ridiculed her as neccessarry.

"Hey, Catie. Everything all right?"

"Yeah, everything's fine here, I'm at my Grandmothers. Look, um...I know you're kinda pissed at Jamie, but I need a favor."

Val thought back to a few weeks ago to the party. The Waite's had thrown a huge party, black tie, and Jamie had invited Catie and the squad to help make it bearable. Val was confused when Tyler had driven them deeper into his own neighborhood, to a huge mansion. The Waite Manor.

She had not been pleased to discover that the scruffy ne'er do well rebel she worked with was really one of the richest kids in town. It wasn't jealousy so much as that she resented not knowing. Okay, maybe she was a little jealous.

"What?"

"Jamie mentioned a few days ago that he was going to be alone for Christmas and I said I'd stop by. But I forgot I was going to Richmond, so I can't go. Can you? Being alone on Christmas sucks."

Val thought about it for a minute. It really was a no-brainer, "Yeah, sure. I'll go over a little later after I've gotten dressed."

"Oh thank you Val!" Catie gushed from the other end, "Have a Merry Christmas!"

"You too," Val replied, hanging up the phone. She had to go to Jamie's house. His mansion. To keep him company. This was not going to be pleasant. She had to hang out with a guy she had nothing in common with at a place that made her very uncomfortable. He had servants for heaven's sake!

A very Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

Val stood in front of the Waite Manor feeling ridiculous clad in jeans and a goofy Christmas sweatshirt. It had been a present from her grandmother and she was obligated to wear it, although it was nowhere near as hideous as the sweater she had received the year before. This one was white and had a large green L on the front covered by a red circle with a line through it. No-L. Noel. It was corny, but bearable.

With a sigh and more than a little trepidation she rang the bell. Maybe he wasn't home. Before she could even wonder if enough time had past so she could turn to leave, scrambling noises came from the other side of the large oaken door.

"Hey Val," Jamie said, shivering in the winter cold. "Um...come on in. I think Catie is coming over soon."

"Thanks," she replied, noticing he was clad in a pair of pajama pants and a long sleeved, black AFI t-shirt. He obviously hadn't showered this morning. This was the first time she had seen him without his hair spiked and without shaving. His hair looked cute, but without shaving he mostly looked scruffy. The inside of the house was warm. "Actually, that's why I came. Catie's in Richmond with her family and asked me to come instead."

Val bit her lip at the crestfallen look that Jamie tried valiantly to hide. "Um...look, you don't have to come just because she asked you too. You should be with your family."

"It's okay," she told him, "I have to be home by 7:00 tonight for dinner, but I'm free for the rest of the afternoon. Being here gets me out of being a nuisance in the kitchen without my mom actually having to kick me out," her lack of cooking skills were legendary.

"Okay," Jamie agreed. They were still standing in the two story entry-way to the house. "Wanna watch a movie?" that's what he and Catie were going to do.

"Sure, but nothing Christmasy. I'm almost holidayed out." Although she loved the holiday season, she was under the impression that Jamie didn't. In fact, now that she thought about it, he hadn't helped put up decorations at the station, didn't join in when they sang songs or did anything. She had just chalked it up to him being his usual rebel self, but now she thought there was something more to it.

"I rented A Knight's Tale and Tomb Raider," he told her, leading her into the living room. "And I have popcorn and soda and stuff."

"How about A Knight's Tale?" she asked, not really wanting to see a T&A action movie with no plot.

Jamie cracked a slight smile, "That's the one Catie wanted to rent. I'll go get the grub. What kind of soda?"

"Sprite?"

"Sure, we have practically everything. Be right back."

Val looked around the living room in amazement as soon as he was gone. She hadn't been too surprised to see no lights up outside, the house was easily three stories and putting up light would have been a nightmare, but inside there was no tree, no decorations anywhere. No evergreen trimming up the banister, no poinsetta's, no Christmas cards on the mantle, not even presents. It was weird. And the house was too quiet. Was Jamie there alone?

"Here ya go," he said, appearantly accepting her company for the afternoon. He had a large bowl of popcorn in one hand and cups and a liter bottle of sprite in the other.

And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong

Jamie and Val watched A Knight's Tale without a word. It wasn't as much of a chick-flick as he had expected, he even enjoyed it. It was weird sitting next to Val instead of Catie, and not Mistie-ing the movie was a definite first, but it wasn't a terrible experience.

Soon the movie was over and almost time for Val to leave. Jamie was stil in his pajamas.

"Where's the tree?" she finally asked, wondering if it was in a different room.

"Don't have one," Jamie replied, not even pretending like he didn't know what she was talking about. He shrugged, "It's not important."

"Not important?" Val repeated, not believing that for a minute. "I agree it has no religious value, but then where do you put the presents?"

Jamie shrugged again, his 'rebel' attitude falling smoothly into place. "They're on the table behind us."

Val twisted and saw the small stack of unopened envelopes and boxes. "You didn't open them," A statement.

"Why bother? They're just gift certificates and stuff. It's not like any of it matters."

"Are you here alone?" she asked, already knowing the answer.

"Nope," he replied smugly. "You're here too."

"That's it!" Val cried, jumping up, "Get up!" she tugged on his arm, unsuccessfully. She was strong, but he stronger.

Lazily he climbed to his feet. "Why?"

"You're coming home with me! Go get dressed."

"I don't want to be a burden," he pretested weakly.

"My mom made plenty. One more won't matter. You are coming with me! Now do I have to watch you shower and pick out your clothes? I'm sure I could find some nice khaki's and a polo shirt in the back of the closet."

The idea of Val watching him shower and even more so, dressing him, was all the threat Jamie needed. He dashed upstairs two at a time and headed to his room. When Val followed him up, she could hear the shower running. Satisfied she headed back down to clean up the living room and to call her mom.

And so Happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight.

Jamie followed Val into her house nervously. They had Christmas lights up and a sign in the front yard saying "Merry Christmas". Fake lollipops ran from the sidewalk to the front door.

"Hey Val!" her mom called out, "And you must be Jamie! Welcome!" Mrs. Linear was wearing jeans and a simple red sweater with green trim.

"Hi."

"Hey Jamie!" Brooke called out from the bedroom she shared with Val, bouncing in a few seconds later.

She had a Santa hat on and a bell around her neck. The more he thought about it, she'd been wearing those two accessories for weeks now. "Okay, no more sugar for you!"

"I've been saying that all day," Mr. Linear informed him, "My only consolation is that it isn't Easter right now. Nice to meet you."

"Nice to meet you too," Jamie replied, shaking his hand. It wasn't that he couldn't be polite, he just usually didn't care.

"Well, come sit down! Sit down! Dinner with be served in a minute!" Mrs. Linear ordered, shooing everyone into the small dining room.

A very Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

After dinner, a very full and content Jamie was arguing with Brooke about the merits of alternative music versus the 'teeny-bopper bubble-gum crap you listen to'.

"Val said you hadn't opened your presents yet, Jamie," Mrs. Linear interrupted.

"Ah, no, not yet. They're at my house," he stammered, not expecting the non sequitur.

"No they aren't!" Val informed him, "I brought them with us. Open!" She deposited the two small boxes in front of Jamie first.

"Awww, no," he protested.

"Open! Or I give you more paperwork!" Brooke threatened, although her tone said she was joking, Jamie didn't trust the evil glint in her eye.

"Your parents are way lame," Brooke proclaimed ten minutes later.

"Brooke Linear!" her mother admonished, trying to apoligize and punish her younger daughter in the same breath.

"Nah, it's okay," Jamie replied, relaxing. "They are way lame sometimes. They mean well, but, well...I really don't think they understand the whole parenting thing. After all, they gave me the complete works of Mozart on CD and a tie clip."

"And they left you home alone on Christmas!" Val chimed in.

"Yeah, that too. Of course, that's nothing new. They do it pretty much every year for almost every holiday. Most of the time I'm working or in school so it isn't so bad."

"That's not right. You should say something," Brooke told him.

Jamie shrugged. "It's not a big thing. Besides, this is the best Christmas ever. Thanks."

A very Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

A/N: I meant to have this out ON Christmas...but yeah, we all see how well that worked. ;P Oh well. Hope you liked!