Title: Twelve Days

Rating: FRK
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or situations that are familiar to you
Spoilers: Episodes 1.01-1.10
Summary: Oneshot. Twelve months in a year, twelve eggs in a carton, twelve pies in a standard dozen, and twelve days it took Kat Stratford to figure out Patrick Verona was serious.

I had originally intended this to be written leading up to Christmas, but that fell through, thus I have changed it to be unrelated to 'The Twelve Days Of Christmas'.

It starts, like everything does, with one.

One girl.

One day.

One final bell for school.

And one chocolate Kiss sitting in the middle shelf of her locker.

It's wrapped in silver tinfoil, and placed in the dead-centre of the shelf. She wouldn't be able to miss it if she tried.

It's nowhere near Christmas, or Valentine's for that matter, where generally the sale of Hershey's Kisses is tenfold, but she doesn't miss the meaning of the Kiss, anyway. For whatever reason, the person responsible has chosen a Kiss, when it could have been a bar, or some candy, or whatever else have you. Logically, the Kiss could have been from a number of people, from people messing with her, to her sister just being cheeky, but stereotypically, it could also be from a male, with some sort of intentions in mind and a sense of mystery fueling his actions.

Either one is baffling.

Picking up the Kiss, she examines it, and concludes it hasn't been tampered with, given the wrapper is perfectly quaffed. Putting it inside her jacket, she takes one last look around for a note or any other indication who the giver was.

It doesn't say who it's from.

From one, comes two.

Two brown eyes staring at the board in front of her,

Two people missing in the seats around her.

Two writing utensils out on her desk, one blue for writing, one red for correcting.

And two purple stubs of paper lay on the page where she opens her notebook to.

They're more violet than lilac, about 2 inches wide, 4 inches in length, and they're written in a black font.

"This stub may be redeemed for 1 admission ticket, along with 1 medium pop and 1 medium popcorn, for any movie of your choice" the ticket stubs both say. They're from the movie theatre a couple blocks from her house, and since she's been there a few times, she knows each stub roughly costs $12 each. That's $24 that someone has now spent on her for... whatever.

Holding the tickets inconspicuously away from the teacher, she briefly mulls over her options, either give them back, if only she knew the individual, or use them. Flipping the tickets over, she quickly looks for the name of her donator.

They don't say who they're from.

Two becomes three.

Three giggly girls in front of her walking to the packing lot.

Three big trucks surrounding her car, making it shrink three times the size.

Three lady bugs crawling on her baby's hood.

And three paperback novels stacked shallowly on the front seat.

All three are the standard size for a novel, with grainy front covers and yellow aged papers. One is 'In His Own Write' a novel by John Lennon full of stories and scribed illustrations, the second is also by Lennon, titled 'A Spaniard In The Works', a sequel to the previous 'Write', the third, 'The Lennon Play: In His Own Write', the play based on the two novels. All three are ones she's never read, yet has heard of and wanted to read, just never found them.

Mom was a Beetles fan, and, according to dad, worshiped the ground Humanitarian Lennon walked on with his respectful feet. When mom died, she gave her records to her eldest, subsequently, the eldest has developed fascination with the man, himself.

Flipping the pages, she hopes to find a note, or at least an insert saying who the donor is.

They don't say who they're from, but there is only one unrelated person who knows of her love for The Beetles.

Three, then four.

Four times she had to tell herself to stop reading, last night.

Four minutes it takes for Bianca to beg for a ride to the mall after school.

Four people bump into her as she reads and walks down the halls.

And four hand-written signatures cover a black and white glossy in her locker.

The signatures are all one's she is very familiar with, and very excited to get. She doesn't jump up and down or squeal when she gets excited, but she does beam, and she most certainty feels that warm flush of adrenaline. It stains her cheeks, and makes her eyes widen in awe.

Dave Green, Anthony Lavin, Marc Hogan, and Barry Robinson have all signed the 8x10 inch photo, included with a touching 'Kat, thank you so much for your support. Look for a new album early next year. Cheers.' She's amazed that someone has given her not only a signed photo, but a personalized one as well.

Examining the back of the photo, she scans it quickly, already knowing she won't find what she's looking for.

It doesn't say who it's from, but she has a vague idea.

Four, to five.

Five benches in the quad.

Five croutons in her salad.

Five minutes since the lunch bell rang.

And five clip-art spoons on an envelope dedicated to her, she finds in her bag.

Mystified, as to how it got there, and what it is, she opens the plain white envelope and is thankful that she's siting down. 'Thank you for your thoughtful donation, Miss. Stratford. The kind contribution will provide a healthy breakfast for five Cambodian children. Thank you for your generosity', the memo from one of her various charities reads.

Overwhelming emotion hits her, and she has to blink her eyes rapidly for a few brief seconds to get herself under control. It's not so much a gift for her, but someone, whoever, has taken to donating to a favourite organization of hers, and the though alone is more touching that this person will ever know (or, perhaps, did know).

Smiling brightly, she makes a quick unsuccessful sweep of the quad before rifling through her bag, aware no other note has been delivered with it.

It doesn't say who it's from, but the notion is oddly romantic, and she has an idea.

Five, then becomes six.

Six birds outside wake her on a day of sleeping in.

Six times she rolled over, only to roll over again, and get up.

Six days since she had started receiving anonymous gifts.

And six issues of E - The Environmental Magazine in the mailbox...on a Saturday.

She doesn't usually check the mail on a weekend, but after five days of receiving gifts, the little girly voice inside her head rose and asked if it were possible she'd get one today. It turns out it was right, and with a text by some 'Unknown Number' instructing her to check the mail, she did.

'E - The Environmental Magazine, a smorgasbord of information, news and resources for people concerned about the environment who want to know "What can I do?" to make a difference,' one of her most favourite things to read that never failed to set things in motion that were rattling around in her head.

Scanning the front and back cover of the magazines, she looks for what she knows she wont find.

They don't say who they're from, but with the main articles being about recycling, and to put yourself in the Earth's shoes, she can take a guess.

Six is followed by seven.

Seven times she checked her cell phone before noon.

Seven days in a week.

Seven gifts.

And seven clothing labels hanging from a chain off her rear-view mirror.

She would never have noticed them till tomorrow if she hadn't of forgotten her math textbook in the car, as it was she had to double-take during a vague sweep of the front seat and dash.

The labels, from various clothing and accessories, are either cut from the back of a collar, or snipped off from a sales price. The prices aren't on the labels, but she doubts that's hardly the point. The point, which she's surprised she even found, is that all seven labels either say 'A product of the USA', or 'Made in America', each endorsing the fact that none of the clothing has been made overseas in sweatshops, or is a product of child labour. It's touching.

Scanning the labels individually for what she knows isn't there, she fondles them briefly before leaving them where they hang along side her busty bookreader.

They don't say who they're from, but she assumes she knows.

Seven, and then eight.

Eight A.M morning wake-up call.

Eight people who insist on ruining her day.

Eight homework assignments for tonight.

And eight small naked mole rat origami figures on her dashboard at the end of the day.

Each little mole rat is, maybe, an inch-and-a-half in height, and made from a post-it-note, with what appears to be randomness scribbled in pen in the form of clothing. One's wearing a tie, while a few are wearing skirts and one even looks like it's wearing overalls with braids, a familiar outfit to her.

They all have names written in pen along their fronts, each a day of the week since her gifts began. They're very accurate, for paper mole rats, that is, and each have their own cute facial expression, from smirks, to winks, to shy little smiles.

Smiling at the little guys, she picks each of them up and examines their 'clothing' in hopes to find a name she knows won't be there.

They don't say who they're from, but who knew he could do origami?

Eight to nine.

Nine in the morning start.

Nine parking spaces for her to choose from.

Nine cheerleaders waltz by her, entering the school.

And nine paw prints on a white envelope sticking out of the vents of her locker.

'Dear, Miss. Stratford,' the letter inside says, 'A sincere thank you for your gift. Your warm donation will supply 9 of our sheltered animals with blankets for quite some time to come. We thank you from the bottom of our barks.' Rereading the letter a number of times, Kat takes note of how many puns the animal shelter 'Four Legged Friends' uses in their thank yous. It's cute, she supposes, but puts it on back-burner, concentrating on the fact that someone has donated blankets, in her name, to yet another worthwhile cause.

Blankets will not only last a lot longer than money, but provide instantaneous warmth and comfort... much like the letter itself has given her.

Sifting through the single page and it's envelope, she hunts for something she yet hasn't given up on finding.

It doesn't say who it's from, other than the agency, but she knows she only needs one guess.

Nine, followed by ten.

Ten o'clock.

Ten channels she flicked through only to turn the TV off and decide to read on the porch.

Ten steps towards her favourite reading pillar and porch light.

And ten tree saplings in a basket sitting on the railing.

The basket is made of wicker and is, maybe, the size of a shoebox. There's no lid, allowing the small saplings to stick out and breathe. Each baby tree is wrapped in a biodegradable mesh, and they smell of pine.

There are small labels on the petite trees from a local Go Green agency, and a note at the top of the basket, on the handle. It thanks her for her kindness and encourages her to spread the word of being environmentally friendly, and to plant each of the ready-to-plant saplings anywhere she deems worthy of such a contribution.

Reaching gently around the saplings, she looks through the basket knowing she might as well not.

They don't say who they're from, but he's trying very hard.

Ten welcomes eleven.

Eleven pages to read.

Eleven homework questions.

Eleven times she checked the clock before the bell finally rang.

And eleven reusable grocery bags sitting on her front seat.

While all eleven promote no grocery or retail store in particular, they all promote the green initiative and make her smile at the kindness done towards her, and the Earth.

She's already got reusable grocery bags, but dad usually does the shopping, and he doesn't, because he usually forgets to pick them up. She'll give them to him, but the sentiment is touching, and she'd be hard pressed to find eleven things she could possibly want in the first place.

Because it's become her thing, she searches all the bags without caring that she knows it's fruitless.

They don't say who they're from, but she'll give herself a guess.

And our countdown ends with twelve.

Twelve days.

Twelve gifts.

Twelve extra belongings that she cherishes.

And twelve rose petals lay beside a single rose on her bed when she returns from going to the movies with Mandella.

The movie was boring, Mandella agrees, and because she sort of wants to keep her secrets to herself, she doesn't use her free movie passes. She'll save them for someone...errr...something special.

Walking up to her room, she had no idea what would be waiting, but the last two weeks have been like that, and it's both exciting and very sweet. Reaching for the rose, she picks it up delicately and sniffs the yellow pedals. They smell heavenly, and even if she isn't a flower person, getting such a gift, and on her bed, is the most romantic thing (however cliche) she could ever think of.

She doesn't know much about roses, but she knows the symbolism behind the colours, and a tidal-wave would be hard pressed to wipe the smile off her face. Yellow; a joy, a friendship, a promise of a new beginning, a remembrance, a jealousy, and an 'I Care' all wrapped in one bloom.

It doesn't say who it's from, but she knows. Maybe she's known from day one.

15 Days prior... the Friday before her first gift...

The whole quad watched, riveted and amused, as once again Stephanie Randle and her on-again-off-again-on-again-off-again etcetera etcetera etcetera slightly dense linebacker of a boyfriend, Steve Montoya, Monty as the squad called him, had their weekly, and by weekly it was meant like clockwork, argument. If it wasn't one thing, it was another, and by the fifth tiff in as many weeks, the spectacle, not only became amusing, but predictable.

Walking the outer perimetre of the quad, Kat avoided the occasional flying projectiles and jumped up on the pillar that she had made hers her first day at Padua. Flipping open her book, she turned to her marked page and started reading.

"What's it about this time?"

"Does it really matter?" Kat said to the deep voice that appeared out of nowhere, whilst continuing her reading, "They'll trade mediocre insults and what they believe to be valid excuses for their stupidity for approximately 2 more minutes, before staring dumbly into the others eyes and end with a make-out session that is both disgustingly uncoordinated and wretchedly vile to observe."

Patrick chuckled, "Spoken like a true romantic."

Kat raised her eyes from the page and regarded him cooly, "The only thing romantic about them is that their perfect for each other 'cause no one else will want them. And what do you know about being romantic?" she added as an afterthought.

"Wouldn't you like to know," Patrick said with a smirk.

"No, actually, I wouldn't," Kat stated, "I have higher expectations than getting friction burns."

Patrick looked her up and down, as if visualizing these friction burns, but said nothing about them, instead, "That would be to imply sex; we were talking romance."

Kat scoffed, "With you, there is no difference."

Patrick moved to lean against her pillar, a little closer than she would normally deem necessary, but she didn't say anything, "I'm honoured that you have such high regards for my talents, without witnessing them first hand. Just imagine what it'll be like..."

Kat closed her book forcefully, "'Just imagine what it'll be like'? That's to assume that sometime in the future I will find you anything less than repulsive."

Patrick nodded factually, "You already do. You're obsessed with me, even without seeing my romantic tactics."

"Like I said," Kat rehashed, "You don't have romantic tactics."

He shrugged his shoulders, "Just because I choose not to, or need to for that matter, doesn't mean I can't."

Kat laughed, both for the fact that they were even having this conversation, and because she found the notion that he could romance that hilarious, "Oh please, you wouldn't know the first thing about romance if it came with a operating manual. Romance requires knowing a person," she added, "and the only thing you want to know is how many layers she's wearing and if she has a lower IQ than a basset hound."

"Basset hounds are actually pretty smart." He smirked when she glared at him, but continued, "And just because I don't actively go out of my way, I know people. I observe. You can tell a lot of things just by watching."

Kat raised a challenging eyebrow, "Ok, what can you tell about me right now?"

"You want to jump me," Patrick said, oozing confidence, "Just like our jock and cheerleader are about to do in 3...2..."

Kat was appalled when at the count of '1' the pair did indeed attack each other, and the quad applauded at the good show.

"Lucky break, and no," Kat said, "Knowing someone enough to romance them is entirely different from knowing when Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum are gonna bring up my lunch."

"I know you..."

Kat jumped off her perch and eyed him speculatively, "No, you don't. And even if you did, you still wouldn't know how to romance me."

Patrick pushed off the pillar and stepped within her comfort zone, "Is that a challenge, cause it really did sound like you wanted me to..."

Picking up her bag and throwing it over her shoulder, Kat backed away and blinked her lashes at him, "No, it's a fact," was all she said before turning and heading towards the school.

Patrick watched the sway of her hips as she went, "We'll see..."

Day 15...

He's been avoiding her for the past 12 days, or, perhaps, not avoiding, just keeping his distance, being secretive about their shared secret and forthcoming about nothing. Then again, she hadn't exactly approached him either. She'd been avoiding him too, not wanting to spoil whatever-it-was that was going on between them, their flirtation from afar, as it were, albeit one sided flirtation cause she had, initially, no idea what was going on in the first place.

Whatever it was, it ended Friday night with the rose. She didn't need any other confirmation that it was done, other than the mere fact alone that a rose, however sweet, had nothing to do with her causes, or her beliefs, or even her for that matter.

She was just a girl being given a flower by boy.

When nothing came Saturday, she had her proof. She spent the whole weekend pretending not to think about the box of mementos underneath her bed (she didn't succeed), and thinking about what it all meant. She knew their previous conversation, and from her own perspective, it had been in jest, obviously, he either didn't think so, or just had to prove her wrong.

Either way, he won. And yeah, she was happy about it.

He had proven two things, even if he was going for only one. The first, while being gifted for 12 days of a year didn't exactly mean that much to anyone else, it meant he had put a lot of time and effort (and probably money) into his particular task, and was committed enough to see it through, all 12 days. It paralleled lovely with the previous conversation.

And the second? No matter what came about, she could most definitely accept the first.

He wasn't at school Monday, under the guise of being the bad boy who skipped school, but she knew it was just part of his final act, to get their first conversation on his own terms. She was right when she spotted him at the very end of the day in the parking lot, perched on his bike like he was just leaving, staring at her like she was the only person in the parking lot.

"You've made your point," she said, standing directly in front of him, foot braced on the front wheel of his bike, a show that said he wasn't leaving until she spoke.

Patrick cocked his head,"And what point would that be?" A sly grin and challenging eyes just asking her to call his bluff.

He should know by now that she would never disappoint him, "The point where I was wrong."

"Wow," he seemed impressed, but still played aloof, "It takes a big person to admit they were wrong, especially you, but I still have no idea what you're talking about."

"Alright then," she said, dismissing the subject and bending over to brace her hands on his handlebars. He seemed intrigued by the posture, probably because it did accidental wonders for her bust and brought her head level, and closer, to his. "I once inadvertently challenged a guy to prove how well he knew me."

Patrick seemed blasé, "How'd that go?"

"While he did show that he knew a lot about me, I learned quite a bit about him, too."

"Oh," he said raising an eyebrow, "Like what?"

"That he's smarter than he pretends to be, that he can be pretty dedicated when it comes to something, how he doesn't back down from a fight. It's actually kinda hot," she added. Patrick smirked, not caring that he was tossing his aloofness out the window.

"But," Kat said, raising a challenging eyebrow, "The next time he gives me a kiss, it better not be made of chocolate."

It wasn't.

Author's Note: Do you have any idea how difficult it was to find 12 things that Kat could like, while at the same time, remain on a very low budget and have it be something Patrick could hypothetically give her? Yeah, not so easy, but so much fun to write! ~ MUCH better than my previous Katrick. I actually love this one.