Merry Christmas, GaryD12.

"…Yeah, I'm almost there…We're just coming in to land. Yeah… love you, bye…"

Sandy hung up, a forlorn look on her face. She winced as her ears popped, and stowed her phone in her carry-on bag. The plane bounced as it landed, then pulled to a halt in front of D.H. Hale International Airport, about 5 miles away from Maraschino. She got off the plane nervously, made her way to the luggage pickup, and waited for her huge, navy-blue suitcase to come around the conveyer belt.

When the large beast came in to sight, she grabbed the handles, pulled it off, and pulled it along on its wheels. Soon, she had exited the airport, and was in the general airport. She glanced around, a knot forming in her stomach.

What if they're not here?

Sandy glanced around nervously, and-


Sandy felt arms wrap around her navel, and after a miniature panic-attack, she realized the arms were grey, and the voice was familiar. She whirled around, and hugged the Korat in front of her.


They embraced, and after a minute, Mike's mother coughed awkwardly, and they parted. A huge grin was plastered across Mike's face, and Sandy felt her own nerves melt away.

"Come on, let's get your stuff out to the van," exclaimed Mike excitedly, and they took her stuff outside.

Mike and Sandy chatted on the way to his house, through the flurry of snow that blew through the cold twilight air. She glanced at the car clock, and began to change the time over to Eastern Time. Mike noticed what she was doing, and commented "It's two minutes fast." She nodded her appreciation, and set it two minutes behind the shown time.

They pulled up in front of the house, and Sandy pulled her suitcase out of the trunk. They chattered as they walked up to the stairs, Mike helped her get it up them, and then they walked in to the house. Mike's mom and Haley walked in after them. Haley had a look of concentrated disinterest on her face, while Mike's mom smiled at Sandy.

"You're in the first room on the left on the second floor, Sandy. Mike, can you help her get her bags up there?"

"Sure thing, Mom!"

The two hauled her suitcase up the flight of stairs, and then rolled it in to her room. Both catching their breaths, they sat down on her bed.

"So, how was your flight?" Mike inquired curiously.

"Boring," she smiled tiredly, "as it should be."

"That's good," Michael laughed. "After all, you don't want an exciting fli-"

"Hey, Mike!"

Mike glanced up as he heard the high pitched voice. Blur was hovering about five feet away, eying the two of them with an annoying, knowing look in his eye.

"What is it, Blur?" Mike groaned.

"I'm heading over to Lucy's to chill with Yashy. See ya."

He then flew out, and Mike frowned.

"That's odd, he doesn't usually tell me where he's going…"

He trailed off as he noticed the look on Sandy's face. It was look that signified a mixture of shock, jealousy and sorrow. Her whole body composure had… slumped, as though something inside her had collapsed.

"You still talk to her?" she said disbelievingly.

"No, no!" Mike reassured her. "I don't – Blur does, because he's friends with one of her pets."

"…Alright, Maishul."

She didn't sound as if she totally believed him, and this thought saddened Mike, especially after what he'd done to Lucy for her sake. Well, not wholly for her sake – Lucy had deserved it, after all.

There were a few moments of silence, and then Sandy said, "…Anyways, what's your school play about?"

"Oh, right, the school play! Well, um…"

Three days had passed.

While the novelty of Sandy being there had worn off slightly for Mike, he was still incredibly excited and happy. His blood pumped ever slightly faster whenever he saw her, and he was intoxicated by her presence.

They were in the small, local mall, hanging out in the food court and talking, when Mike heard a loud, angry male voice.

"What? That douche did what? I'll kick his ass so damn hard this time…"

"Paulo… no…"

Mike glanced over, and winced as he heard the very distinctive sounds of Paulo and Lucy's voices. He slowly turned back to Sandy, and, keeping his voice level, albeit quiet, said, "So, anyways…"

Sandy stared right past him at the bickering pair, and said, "Maishul, do you know those two?"

There was a second of silence, and then Mike said, "…Yeah, I do."

When no further response was forthcoming, Sandy prompted, "…and?"

Mike sighed, and said, "The Somalian's name is Paulo, he's a class-A jerk. The Khao Manee…" He groaned. "The Khao Manee is Lucy."

It was then that Paulo broke away from Lucy, and marched over to Mike, grabbed him by the front of his scarf, and dragged him to his feet. The look on his face was absolutely murderous as he glared down at the Korat. Sandy's eyes widened with fright as her jaw dropped to the floor.

"You goddamn son of a bitch!" Paulo swore. "What the hell were you thinking? I mean, damn man, you're worse than me, you're a thousand times worse than me! I wouldn't do that, and I'm not a fruitcake like you!"

Mike stared at Paulo, his eyebrows slanted at a dangerously low angle.

"Let me go, Paulo," he hissed, and with a growl, he dropped him.

"Dude, I don't even know what to goddamn think of you anymore," Paulo said, his voice half disgusted, half amazed.

"Paulo, stop it!" Lucy cried, pulling his arm away from Mike. Paulo glanced at her, and his face softened, and then hardened. He turned back to Mike, hissed "Go to hell," and then stalked off. Lucy glanced at Mike, a pained look on her face, and then bounded after Paulo.

There was a moment of silence, and then Sandy said, "Mike, what did you do?"

"I don't want to talk about it…"

"What did you do?"

"I… I…" The force behind her voice caught him off guard. "I took your advice – I broke ties with her. As you can see, she didn't take it well."

Sandy lifted her hands, and rubbed her temples thoughtfully, sighing. "I can't tell whether to be horrified or approve. That's the girl that was hitting you, right?"


Sandy shook her head as if trying to clear something from it. "Why do I feel so conflicted then? She was in the wrong, right?"


She nodded, although she didn't look fully convinced. Mike started to get a sinking suspicion she didn't fully trust him, and it hurt. He wondered briefly what had elicited it, but couldn't come up with an answer. They finished what they were doing, and headed on back to his house.

Christmas Eve.

"The time of the year when everyone is filled with joy," Lucy muttered sarcastically to herself. She was curled up on Mike's couch, staring sullenly at the wall as people mulled around. Mike's mother had invited her family to Christmas dinner, and so she'd been forced to see him.

"Stupid Michael," she whispered in to the pillow, turning her face away from the people so she wouldn't have to see them.

"Oh my God!"

Lucy raised her head, and looked over the back of the couch to see Sandy and Mike pressed in to a corner. Sandy was staring at him with her hands over her mouth, a horrified look over her face. Mike seemed to have an imploring look on his face, as though begging her to stay.

What a fruitcake, she thought with the faintest ghost of her old zest. Mike gesticulated wildly, and Sandy sighed, and pressed against his chest, where he rubbed the back of her hair gently.

Damn it, Lucy wailed silently as she slid down back to her fetal position. I should be there! That should be me…!

A group of adults passed by her, glasses of champagne in hand, talking and laughing. One glanced down at her and crowed, in a slightly tipsy voice, "D'aww, what a cute little girl… hic…hey, Fred, pass me some of the whisky over there, would you?"

Needless to say, this didn't make Lucy feel any better, and she growled in to the couch.

"Um… excuse me?"

Lucy raised her head out of the cushions enough to look up at the speaker. She was a white cat with black hair, and a blue hair-ribbon. She was standing pensively at the foot of the chair, staring at Lucy apprehensively. There's only one person this could be.


"D'you mind if I sit with you?"

Lucy nodded her acquiescence, and Sandy sat on the sofa.

"So, you're Lucy."

"So, you're Sandy," Lucy responded neutrally.

"I've heard a lot of things about you from Mike…" Sandy said, glancing over at the white Khao Manee.

"Oh really?" Lucy growled, her voice slightly less neutral than before.


There was a moment of silence, and then she said, "I hope at least some of it was good?"

"Yeah, yeah!" Sandy exclaimed. Then, after a moment, she admitted, "Well… at first. Not so much anymore."

"Figures," Lucy muttered, and flopped back on to the cushion.

"Why are you all mopey?" Sandy noted, her eyebrows rising slightly.

Lucy turned around, and stared at the white-furred girl before her. Her eyes narrowed, and a look somewhere between rage and laughter crossed her face. The two emotions weren't compatible, and so she merely ended up snorting loudly and laying back against the cushion.

"You wouldn't understand."

"Try me."

Lucy stared at the girl for a moment, and then said, "Hypothetical situation here - imagine for a moment that you'd had a best friend for seven years… I'm sure you've had. Now, imagine that your best friend of these seven years decides one day, apparently spontaneously to you, that he's not going to talk to you anymore because of something you've been doing for the last seven years that he's never breathed a word about before.

"Now imagine that when you eventually try to confront him about it, he announces that he despises your very existence, you're a parasite who ruins everything you touch, and that not only is he going to leave you, but he's going to tear all of your friends away as well, leaving you completely and utterly alone. Try and understand that."

Sandy's hands were in front of her mouth, and a look of horror swept across her face.

"He didn't," she whispered.

"Now add loving him, and getting rejected in favour of a girl over 1000 miles away to the mixture," spat Lucy spitefully, before planting her face back in the cushion.

"You poor girl," whispered Sandy, her horrified look slowly melting into one of pity and anger. "I'm so, so sorry."

Lucy just shrugged, and pulled up her legs so she could hug her knees. Sandy tentatively reached forward and touched her shoulder. Lucy froze, and a myriad of old instincts rose to the surface, ready to lash out at whoever dared lay hands on her.

Then she remembered what had got her in to this situation anyways, and with a great amount of effort, relaxed at let the hand stay.

Sandy was totally unaware of this internal struggle, and put her arm across Lucy's shoulder. The struggle merely got more intense, and then Sandy said, "I'll tell you one thing though… he can't take your friends away. You saw how…" she searched for the name, "Paulo reacted to what you told him – he was furious."

Lucy sniffed, feeling her defences start to crumble, and muttered, "I guess…"

"Come on, you've got loads of friends!"

Suddenly one of the adults, one of the drunken ones before, slurred, "heeey, where's my mistletoe?" is a bad Scottish accent. One of the women gave a high-pitched, girly giggle, and then said, "I hung it in the rafters, silly!"

Lucy glanced up and, to her horror, saw a little green plant hanging from the rafters above their heads, and suppressed a groan of dismay.

"What's wrong?" Sandy asked, and looked up. "…Oh."

"Yeah. 'Oh.'"

"Well come on, it doesn't mean anything."

"I know that!" snapped Lucy. "It's just that…"

"It's just what?"

Lucy remained silent, and Sandy's voice hardened. "It's just what, Lucy?"

"It's nothing!"


Sandy placed her hands on either side of Lucy's face, and stared into her eyes. She stared at her unblinking for a moment, and then said, "Look at us – talking on the couch like friends. The boy we both love in the other room, oblivious to the hurt he's caused… and you, Lucy… how do you do it?"

"What? How do I do what?"

"How are you so strong?"

The question took Lucy off guard, and for a moment she merely stared at Sandy incredulously. Then she snorted with laughter, and growled, "I'm not strong – I'm weak. Weak as hell… I couldn't even keep him."

"And after all that," Sandy murmured, "what did you do? You went on. I call that strong, Lucy."

Lucy sniffed, and then exhaled. She stared up at Sandy, and said, "I… guess. Thank you."

An immense feeling of gratitude washed over her, and suddenly Lucy did something unexpected – she pushed her face forward, breaking out of Sandy's tentative grasp, and pressed her lips firmly to the other girl's. Sandy froze, and then after a second returned the kiss. They broke, and Sandy stared at Lucy is surprise.

"Mistletoe," Lucy smiled, gesturing upwards.

Sandy glanced up, and then smiled in return.

"Hey, Sandy! Come look at this!" Mike's voice called from the other room, slightly slurred. She jumped, and Lucy laughed. "He can't hold alcohol," she giggled, and then stopped. What the hell? I'm giggling?

Sandy smiled, and then said to Lucy, "here, take this."

She took a piece of paper and a pen off of a nearby desk, scribbled something on it, and then handed it to Lucy. Sandy then got up off the couch, and hurried over towards the other room. Sandy read the piece of paper, and saw the words 'Cell' and 'Home' on it, with numbers written underneath. She glanced up at where Sandy stood in the doorframe, and saw her hold her hand to the side of her head like a phone, and mouthed "call me!"

Lucy smiled, and put it in her pocket. She then closed her eyes, leaned back and smiled.

This Christmas wasn't going to be so bad after all.