Hey everyone! :)

So here's a Christmas oneshot loosely based on the song 'Ho Ho Hopefully' by The Maine. If you haven't heard of it, you're missing half your life.

I apologize if this fic is so long, and you'd rather be spending time opening gifts or spending time with your family, but it's sweet, so I hope you think it's time well spent.

Situation: Dr. M bought Max and her flock a temporary apartment in New York and Max decided that they should celebrate Christmas. :)

Side note: Someone commented that Max and Fang got together in the 5th book, when they were 14. And I know that, so pretend like it never happened, kay? Like they just stayed friends all the way until they were 16 and Fang was growing to love her more and more each day. :)

Enjoy and don't forget to review!

- - - - -O- - - - -

Fang never thought he'd be putting up decorations on December first in their apartment. More specifically Christmas decorations.

The last time he remembered doing this was 2 years ago when he was 13, and his family still lived in the E-shaped house. He remembered it was their first Christmas without Jeb, but Max still took the liberty of flying to town, dragging Fang along with her, and stealing a Christmas tree (yes, she stole one) and a few ornaments to put up.

Back then, Max was still in denial of Jeb's 'death' – worried about how she was going to take care of the rest of the flock and keep them safe – but that didn't stop her from continuing tradition, telling Fang she was doing it for the kids' sake.

That's Max for ya.

Right now, as if they were back in time, they were all scrabbling around the living room of their new apartment in New York.

Nudge, who was crazy enough to wear a 'fashionable' skirt with this temperature, was fixing the bowls and bouquets displayed on tables, her pigtails bouncing with each step. Angel and Gazzy were arguing; strategizing where to put the candy canes and snowflakes on the Christmas tree by the corner. Max, who was poised on a wooden stool, was inserting little snowmen and Santa Clauses on the upper part of the tree, with Iggy handing her the decorations carefully. Lastly, Fang was assigned lights duty, circling the Christmas tree with a green wire dotted with tiny white lights as he intertwined it in the tree branches.

Max told them just yesterday that they would be celebrating Christmas. It was completely out of the blue, and she jokingly told the kids that it was because she wanted presents, but Fang knew she would do anything to try and make the flock feel like they were normal. That was one of the things that he admired about her.

"Gazzy, go get the silver bells in the dining room." Max told him without taking her eyes off the tree.

Being homeless for 2 years didn't give the flock the opportunity to know whether or not certain decorations thrown together were tacky. But they didn't care. They continued to decorate the tree with smiles on their faces, a patch of the tree filled with scarlet poinsettias while the other side was strewn with colorful frosted balls that clashed.

At that moment, Gazzy raced back into the living room, clutching a box of jingling plastic bells in his arms. He had the brightest smile on his face, with eyes that seemed to sparkle to match, as he slid on his blue polka-dotted socks on the marble floor.

But as he slid, Gazzy seemed to keep going, miscalculating his speed. He tried back-tracking, with a panicked look on his face, but in the next second he crashed directly into the stool Max was standing on, causing her to wobble.

"Gazzy-!" She started but was cut off when her foot slipped off the stool and she fell.

Like everything suddenly played in slow motion, Angel was only able to peek from the other side of the tree, gasping as she saw it happen. Gazzy fell to the ground from the impact, causing all the bells to crash around him on the floor as he stared with wide eyes. Nudge, who was across the room, was only able to turn in time to scream Max's name. And Iggy was by the coffee table in the middle of the room, his hands full of the next set of decorations as he heard the commotion.

But it was Fang who reacted the fastest, dropping the wires in a millisecond and diving the next, to try to catch Max.

He flung his arms out to her, tense and ready for the fall, but the momentum caught him off guard and he and Max tumbled to the ground in a heap.

They were a tangle of arms and legs once they reached the ground, and since it was marble, the fall was all the more painful.

"Unngghh…" Max groaned from above Fang, her body pressed against his on the floor. Her body was sore all over from the force of the fall as she tried to lift her head from his shoulder. She took a few seconds, blinked a few times to try to clear her vision, and when her surroundings stopped swaying she took in the situation and she stared in horror, failing to bite back her gasp.

She didn't realize up until this second just how close their bodies were.

Legs intertwined with each others' with her hands on his chest, she froze in shock, watching Fang blink a few times from beneath her. He assessed the situation as well in seconds, and when his eyes reached hers, time seemed to have stopped right then.

It was only 8 seconds. Eight seconds of the flock rushing towards them. Eight seconds of asking if they were alright. But those 8 seconds felt like forever to Max and Fang; like all the clocks broke in that second and everything else disappeared.

It was just the 2 of them, face to face, pressed against each other. In reality, it could have been rushed and completely unromantic, but at that moment Fang lifted one of his hands from where they laid on her waist and he slowly stroked Max's face lightly with the tips of his fingers, brushing a lock of her honey brown hair behind her ear. His touch was warm, and a tingling sensation trailed on her skin from where he brushed his fingers.

He took in every detail: her long dark lashes and the diagonal shadows the Christmas lights cast, the depth of her melted chocolate brown eyes and the faint rings of grey underneath from sleepless nights, the rosy flush on her cheekbones, her curved light pink lips that were slightly dry, and the smell of her breath – chocolate from the cookies Dr. M sent.

Max could only stare back at him, a thoughtful look on her face. She looked just as awed and shocked as he probably was, but after a few moments her eyes started to flutter shut and the smallest of smiles was seen on her lips.

At this, Fang widened his eyes by a millimeter, which was saying a lot. 'Did this mean something?' he wondered, 'Should I kiss Max?'

Of course he didn't want to freak her out. Seeing her run away from him as she did every time he kissed her was the last thing he wanted to see. But whenever he saw Max, it was hard to not to.

He already knew he loved her. He was in love with her and he wanted to be with her.

But he wasn't going to push Max. He knew she was in denial, or confused, or maybe even scared, but he was determined to wait for her until she was ready to feel what he feels. He would continue to follow her and listen to her like a best friend would, even when he felt the urge to hold her in his arms and kiss her whenever she would smile, or laugh, or cry.

His hand caressed her cheek, the tips of his fingers brushing against her ear. He didn't plan on kissing her, not here and not yet, but Max didn't seem to think so and she reacted in the next second.

Max's eyes snapped opened and she rolled off of him as though his touch could burn. She ended up in a crouch as a force of habit and wobbly stood up, clearing her throat.

"I'm so sorry, Fang." She said, filled with sincerity, and began to extend her hand downwards, but Fang was already standing, dusting his pants.

"No problem." He shrugged like it was no big deal and cleared his throat too.

The rest of the flock didn't realize what happened because it was all so fast, and after they were all reassured that they were okay, they went back to decorating the house.

And throughout the rest of the night, Max pretended like nothing happened. She continued on with the same cheerful demeanor with a bright smile on her face as she hooked the decorations on the Christmas tree. She didn't even quickly turn away from Fang's stares or try to avoid him.

It was as though she didn't feel what he felt in those 8 seconds.

- - - - -O- - - - -

Two weeks later, Max got them all to go gift shopping. Fang was surprised not only because she was hyped up and excited to actually go shopping, but because she really followed through with her 'Celebrate Christmas' plans. Max's hands were always full – taking care of the flock, worrying all the time about their safety and still trying to find a way to save the world – and yet she still managed to make time and bring them to a mall.

Since they were all very experienced and pretty mature for their age, Max decided to give them all a fair amount of money, and they all split up and agreed to meet at the food court by late afternoon.

Once they got back to the apartment after a tiring day of roaming aimlessly in the shopping center and carrying multiply bags on their arms, everyone quickly removed their shoes, hung their coats and jackets and ran off into their own rooms, doubtless they would start wrapping and hiding each others presents.

Come 7pm, Max walked in on Fang sitting at the kitchen island, delicately wrapping presents with green and gold gift wrapping paper. It was surprising because usually their presents were just crumpled up in newspaper; they never had the money to make the gifts special with bows and cards.

But this year, Fang wanted the kids to truly experience it all. Ripping off the wrapping, pulling out the ribbons and taking the lid off the boxes to be surprised by a gift they never expected.

This year should be special for all of them.

Fang just finished with Nudge's present; he trimmed off the excess ribbon and pushed the gift aside before reaching for a sandwich he made a couple of minutes ago.

He continued to bite into his sandwich as he watched Max grab a mug from the cupboard across the kitchen. She turned around to look back at him as though she knew he were watching her, then turned back to the cupboards again and grabbed a second mug.

She quickly made 2 mugs of steaming hot chocolate, topped with whip cream and mini marshmallows, and brought them to where Fang was seated. She placed one on front of him wordlessly and turned her back to him to lean against the island, sipping her drink. Fang smiled at this.

Hot chocolate was Max's favorite and he knew she was very possessive over it. Normally she wouldn't let anyone touch the hot chocolate packs that she buys and she definitely wouldn't make them for anyone else.

"How's the wrapping going, handyman?" She asked without looking at him, still clutching onto her mug and sipping every few seconds.

"I just need to do yours and Iggy's and I'm done."

She turned around swiftly and faced the island, leaning on the marble counter on her elbows. With Fang sitting on the stool nearest Max, their arms were inches away from touching.

"So what'd you get Iggy?" She asked curiously, cocking her head to one side. Fang thought she looked adorable when she did that.

"I'm not telling." He grinned.

"Fine." She said with an air of indifference and started staring at the contents of her mug with a bored expression. After a few seconds, she spoke up again, "So what'd you get me?" she smiled brightly.

'Max acts like such a kid sometimes…' Fang thought fondly before shaking his head. "I'm still not telling."

Max huffed and put down her mug on the counter. "Well why not?"

"Because it a surprise." He said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

She frowned. "You know I hate surprises."

"Which is exactly why I'm keeping it from you." Fang tried to stop himself from smiling, but it was no use. And the more he smiled at her, the more frustrated Max got.

"You suck at being a best friend, you know that?" her voice got cold.

Fang gave her a pointed look. "I'm not falling for the guilt trip act and you know that's a total lie."

She stuck her tongue out at him, acting very immature for a 16-year old. As Fang took a sip from his hot chocolate, Max's gasp made him look up from the rim of the mug to see her smiling, her mouth the shape of a perfect sideways D with all her white teeth exposed.

"I'll tell you your gift if you tell me mine." Jeez… Why was Max so excited to know what her gift was?

He brushed his hand across his lips to keep from laughing. "Nice try, Max. Though it's still a no."

Sighing loudly, she rolled her eyes and picked up her mug with one hand. "Whatever Fang."

At first Fang thought she was going to punch him jokingly (but be warned: her joking punches were still hecka painful), raising her free hand towards him, but then her arm reached past his shoulder and towards his arm holding the sandwich instead. She held his wrist and pulled his arm towards her mouth, taking a huge bite off his sandwich. She then made a very attractive face to him with her mouth full before walking off towards the room she shared with Nudge and Angel.

Fang would've laughed – especially at the face she just made – if he hadn't frozen in shock by what she just did. The way she leaned over him, the warmth of her fingers as she held his wrist, and the proximity of their faces when she bit into his sandwich – which was only a few inches – stunned him.

Sure, they've shared their food dozen of times. They've even drank out of the same straw when they were desperate and on the run. But something about that made Fang shiver and think about it for a long time.

He didn't know how it was possible that Max was both annoyingly immature, yet at the same time breathtakingly beautiful without even knowing it.

She was very innocent; oblivious to the fact that she was just flirting with him (she was, wasn't she?) and yet there was nothing really malicious about it with the way she smiled and joked about the whole thing.

And Fang liked that about her, because she was different. She was a lot of things: bossy and gentle, annoying and funny, innocent and evil, shallow and deep, scarred and beautiful. She was Max.

She was infuriating, yet that makes Fang love her even more.

- - - - -O- - - - -

Finally it was December 24. The day before Christmas.

From the moment Fang opened his eyes when he woke up, he knew there was going to be something special, something magical about this day.

Everyone was extra cheerful, laughing more and exceedingly happy when they all met up at the breakfast table. They talked and ate and smiled brightly as if it were an ordinary morning with average people eating a normal breakfast. They all never felt so content in their lives.

Once the table was cleared and everyone was dressed for the day, Max had a whole list of activities for them to do, which was very unlike Max because she wasn't the type of person to plan things before hand.

She never really thought about the future, just what was happening in the present, because realistically she wasn't sure if they would be alive next week, or the week after that. But since today was special she wanted everything to be perfect for them.

They first went for an early morning flight all together. The usual blizzard that hits New York had already passed and they were built for this kind of weather. They needed to stretch their wings anyway, and despite the chill air, it seems like nothing would be able to destroy their good mood.

Hours later, they went back to their apartment at lunch time, never losing their bright demeanors.

After a hearty lunch cooked by the resident master chef, they ended up sprawled all over the living room area, spread on the couches and lying on cushions on the floor, watching a bunch of movies.

Angel and Nudge were curled up together under a fluffy blanket on the loveseat, their eyes completely glued to the TV screen. Gazzy and Iggy were both on the floor, with Iggy propped on a thick blanket and a couple of pillows and Gazzy lying on his stomach, crossing and uncrossing his ankles in the air. Max was sitting cross-legged on front of Nudge legs, leaning back on them with her attention on the movie, and Fang sat alone at the end of the large couch.

After their first movie, just as Gazzy was switching CDs, Max got up from the floor, stretched her arms in the air and walked across the room to sit beside Fang on the couch. She looked at him once and smiled briefly before she grabbed another blanket from the back of the closest chair and draped it over the both of them. The movie's opening credits began as she unconsciously drew her knees up to her chest, wrapped her arms around them, and slowly leaned on Fang's shoulder. Fang then circled his arm around her body, the both of them getting into more comfortable positions before he turned back to the movie as well.

It was another instinctively done action. Something meant to be friendly and comforting because they always leaned on each other: when they were on the run, when they slept, when they talked and when they just needed to be with each other.

Luckily, Fang didn't over-think this like the time they set up the Christmas tree; whenever he stressed over something, he always ends up ruining it. But not now though.

He was too engrossed with the movie that he didn't even realize how intimate or how protective his stance was over Max.

- - - - -O- - - - -

"I love it! I love Christmas! Thank you sooo much, Max! This is perfect!" Nudge gushed over the cute top that Max had gotten her. The one that Nudge wouldn't stop asking for a few weeks ago.

"Sure thing, sweetie." With one arm wrapped around Nudge's shoulder, Max squeezed her and kissed the top of her head with affection.

It was still December 24, exactly 11:37pm, but the flock was never patient enough to wait for Christmas Eve to open their presents. After dinner, they all dispersed to collects each others gifts that they've been hiding and met up by the Christmas tree. (If they had placed their already-wrapped gifts for each other under the tree, they would have all been ripped apart; 'just goes to show how patient they are)

It seems everyone got exactly what they wanted.

A stuffed giraffe toy for Angel. Cute strappy shoes for Nudge. Transformer toy cars for Gazzy. And a neat audio book for Iggy.

All except Max and Fang.

While they were pleased at how happy each member of their family was, there was just…something missing…

They both knew that it was totally ungrateful for even thinking such thoughts, but they couldn't seem to quit thinking about what they got from each other.

After a few more minutes of babbling and hugging and thanking one another, the rest of the flock started to go towards their respective rooms to turn in.

All except Max and Fang.

Together, they cleaned up the wrappings and ribbons strewn on the floor. Once they were done, they picked up their presents and, standing a few steps away from each other by the Christmas tree, Max turned to Fang.

"Thanks for the CD." Max tried to keep the bitter disappointment from her voice as she clutched her presents tighter to her chest. She felt guilty for actually expecting something more, but shouldn't she get something better from her best friend?

"Sure. And thanks for the jacket." He replied, fingering the material in his fingers, keeping his emotions of sadness and hurt locked away. He figured he deserved better.

They smiled at each other awkwardly for a few seconds before Max decided to break the silence.

"Well…goodnight Fang." She said quickly and smiled at him one more time before turning her back.

"Goodnight Max." he said as well and watched her go.

She only took 3 steps away from him, not even close to the hallway with their bedroom doors, but already his pocket felt heavier, and if she took anymore steps away from him it would grow even more unbearable.

His pocket in which laid a two by two inch velvet box.

The CD was just something he got her because he knew she would enjoy it, but it wasn't actually her Christmas gift. No, he had something more special to give her.

Why he didn't give her her real gift a while ago? He didn't know. Maybe it was because she gave him her gift first and saw the simplicity of it that he chickened out. Or maybe because he thought that if he gave something more to her – something so deep and meaningful – it would seem like he put so much thought into it and it might either creep Max out or make her laugh at him for over-thinking things. And as an emotionless brick wall, Fang wouldn't want to be embarrassed.

But now he knew he would regret it if he never gave his real gift to her. He wouldn't have another opportunity like this and he knew he would regret. He should just forget about his pride and go for it, because he never knew if something could turn out so beautifully. If she would instead smile and hug him for such a thoughtful present.

He went for it.

"Max," He called out to her. She turned around to face him with an eyebrow raised, "I have something else to give to you." He said.

She started to walk back towards him and there were exactly where they were just a few seconds ago, standing on front of each other by the Christmas tree.

"What is it?"

He didn't stop to hesitate as he reached into his pocket and pulled out the velvet box.

"Here." He handed it casually to Max, placing it into her fingers quickly before dropping his hand again. On the outside he looked serene and slightly indifferent but on the inside his heart was racing, anticipating and dreading her reaction at the same time.

"Wh-what's this?" She stuttered, looking up at him with wide eyes.

"Your present, Max." he said it in a 'duh' tone to disguise his unease.

She ignored this and shifted her presents to one arm. With careful fingers, she slowly opened the box to see a delicate thin gold chain attached to a pendant.

More specifically, a gold locket.

She drew the necklace from its box in a trance, and immediately, but still carefully, she opened the locket with her nails.

And there inside the locket was a picture of the both of them, side by side, smiling.

On the left side of the locket, Max was smiling with her mouth open, the kind of smile people show as they laugh, with all her white teeth gleaming and her hair being blown back by the wind. A picture that was probably taken in the air.

On the other side was a picture of Fang, doing his signature smirk that made you want to strangle him but at the same time made the world spin a little bit faster. And because he barely showed any emotions, unless he was with Max, this picture was probably taken by accident.

Generally, the whole idea of it was cliché and very chick-lit worthy, but Fang didn't really mean to put anything romantic about the gesture. Not unless she wanted there to be. It was his way of saying that they'd be best friends no matter what and that there was and will always be a 'you and me.'

Max stared at the pictures in the locket in awe for a few more seconds, studying every single detail of it. A small smile started to spread on her lips, and in the next second she looked up at Fang, her face filled with appreciation and love. "It's perfect, Fang. Thank you."

And at those words, his heart stopped beating. He knew he made the right choice.

Wordlessly, he stepped forwards and took the necklace from her as she turned around. He lowered it on front of her face, clasped the hook, and gently placed it down until it rested on her neck.

When she turned back around though, he didn't expect this.

"I've got something for you too." She said happily and handed him something from beneath her arm. He stared at the regular-sized notebook in his hands, not quite understanding why she gave him one of her presents.

"Open it, silly." She urged with a breathless laugh, and he did so.

And on the first page was a picture of the whole flock 4 years ago, back when they still lived in the E-shaped house and Jeb hadn't disappeared yet. They were all flying, their wings outstretched and contrasting to one another's, squished together to be able to fit in the shot.

Angel and Gazzy, with their tiny, developing wings, were smiling sweetly towards the camera, with Nudge and Iggy making funny faces just above them. 12-year old Max was tugging the sleeve of Fang and pointing towards the camera, squinting in the sunlight with the brightest smile on her face while younger Fang was only able to look at the camera in the last second, his face unguarded. He looked almost as stoic as he is now, but if you looked close enough you could see his smile. His innocent 12-year old smile.

He continued to flip through the pages of pictures and memories that he had with the flock: Angel's first attempt to fly, Gazzy's 7th birthday, Iggy carrying Max piggy-back style, Gazzy, Max and Fang playing tag, and so much more. He found himself smiling, with his teeth, as he took in the details and reminisced those exact moments in time.

Towards the end of the notebook, the pages began to fill with only pictures of the both of them.

Pictures of them curled up on the couch asleep together when they were 13, flying side by side, stuffing each other's faces with cake, crouched together on a tree as they hid from Iggy, an 11-year old Max hugging Fang, who was rolling his eyes, a picture of their backs with their heads bent together on a grassy field, and on the very last page, a simple picture of just the 2 of them in the present.

Fang remembered this: they were walking in the streets when Max suddenly brought up an inside joke. You could tell they were walking because their knees were bent and the angle of the picture was slanted, probably secretly taken by Nudge who was walking ahead of them. Fang's shoulders were slightly hunched, with his hands in his jacket pockets while Max was mid-punching him on the shoulder with her head thrown back in laughter. Both their bodies were facing towards each other and they were evidently smiling.

It was a beautiful shot.

Fang stared at that last picture for a few more seconds, reliving the memory, before closing the notebook and meeting Max's eyes.

"Is this mine?" he asked, trying to keep the excitement and eagerness out of his voice.

"Naw, I just showed you this album I made because I wanted to see your reaction like I'd just given candy to a baby before I take it back." She said nonchalantly, which was obviously sarcasm. Fang rolled his eyes.

"You put a lot of work into this." He said, because he couldn't imagine how hard it must've been to recover so many pictures.

As if she read his mind, she said, "Yeah, well Nudge and Angel helped me forage through our old junk in our backpacks and, you known Nudge and that camera my mom gave her are practically inseparable." He laughed.

"Thank you, Max." he said, and the look on his face showed that he really, truly was thankful. She smiled back at him.

"Well, it's late. Actually, it's already Christmas," she smiled, "Merry Christmas, Fang." She greeted him.

"Merry Christmas, Max." he said back.

She started forwards with her arms extended so she could hug him goodnight, something she wouldn't normally do except for the fact that she was so elated right now, but the toe of her sneaker caught on the carpet and she tripped.

She immediately dropped all her presents on the floor and with a yelp, she was suddenly falling forward.

And Max ended up crashing onto Fang.

The impact made him drop his gifts as well and immediately grab onto her to steady her.

Sappy Romance stereotype: 1. Their luck: 0.

Unlike the last time, the momentum of her fall wasn't so strong so he was able to hold her and stay upright while Max leaned against him.

When she raised her head to look up, her face filled with horror.

There they were, standing beside the Christmas tree with Fang holding her waist and Max bending forward haphazardly, holding onto his shoulder with one hand and clutching his arm with the other.

As she assessed the situation, her face began to burn bright red. Boy, was she lucky.

"You're a clumsy little thing, aren't you Max?" Fang teased, his signature smirk plastered onto his face. But she wasn't staring at him right now; she was staring right above him.

"I don't remember ever getting a mistletoe. Or even hanging one up there for that matter." Max said a little breathlessly, her chocolate brown eyes wide.

Fang looked up too, and lo and behold, poorly attached to the ceiling was a legit sprig of tiny green leaves and white, round mistletoe berries, bundled together by a strip of ribbon and drooped downwards exactly above their heads.

Sappy Romance stereotype: 10. Their luck: -678,395.

They were both just staring at the mistletoe in confusion and horror, but in those few seconds that they stared, Fang noticed that she didn't let go of him. She didn't immediately rush out of his arms and pretend like nothing happened.

She was there, staying, and not once did she loosen her hold on him.

Fang's heart leaped to his throat. Their proximity and the fact that she wasn't letting go washed over him with a wave of courage and he actually said, "Since we're trying to celebrate Christmas traditionally, don't you think we should kiss?"

Time stopped once again.

Fang held his breath as he waited for the sarcastic laugh, the 'You've got to be kidding me' comeback or the WTF look. That was a very brave thing for Fang to do – asking a kiss from Max – but it was also suicidal.

Luckily, he was made of steel. Years of torture from the School, snark and sarcasm from Iggy and Max, and just the hardship of their lives made him tough. He could just as easily wave it off as a joke and act like-

"Well," Max said with a smile starting to form on her face, "It is tradition." She said before straightening in his arms, going on her toes and pressing her lips to his.

That was probably the biggest shock in Fang's life. Not that he was complaining of course.

But after all this, Fang wasn't sure if he'd be able to let her go.

Because this was where they belonged. Happy and together. They belonged in each others arms, together just the two of them.

He knew that in a few hours, when they'll all gather around the breakfast table and eat, Max would act like nothing happened. She was very good at pretending things never happened.

And this was probably only, as she said, for tradition's sake, but he'd like to think otherwise. It might be a joke to her, but he'll remember this like she truly loved him at that moment.

He'll remember this as the moment when she didn't run away.

He held her closer to him until they could feel each others hearts beat in time, and she tilted her head to get even closer.

And while Fang tried to imagine that this was all real, little did he know that Max wanted this all along as well.

- - - - -O- - - - -

Remember to review! I know some of you out there just exit a tab after reading a story. -_- Please tell me what you think!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Peace out,

.: Tiffany :.