Authors Note: The Disney XD webpage says that Jack's family moved around a lot. I'm going to say that is because his father is in the military. I know the show hasn't specifically said that, but it's my version of Jack's family, for now at least. And in this story, Jack and Kim aren't a couple (yet). Takes place before the events of Karate Games and Kickin' It On Our Own. This is my first Kickin' It fic, and it's pretty fluffy. I hope to write some more dramatic stuff in the future. Dedicated to all the troops and their families. God bless you this Christmas.
"Well, we're here, Rudy," Kim said as she and the guys entered the dojo.
"Yeah, did we really need to have practice two days before Christmas?" Eddie asked.
Rudy smiled brightly as his favorite students came in the door. The dojo's doorways were surrounded by tiny multi-colored lights. Fake snow covered the windows, and red and green streamers were draped across the ceiling. Rudy had even put up a small Christmas tree with karate belts wrapped around it like tinsel.
"Practice? No. Our annual Christmas party? Yes!" He gestured grandly to a table covered with snacks and drinks. "Go on! Dig in! I made these special for you guys."
Milton stared suspiciously at the table. "You made these? For us?"
"Well…the nice lady at the candy shop made them. And I've been handing them out to my students all day. But only you guys get hot chocolate, too!"
"Sweet!" Jerry exclaimed as he and the others descended on the table.
"So, Rudy, do you have any big plans for Christmas?" Eddie asked as they finished up the snacks.
"Not really. Just the annual Gillespie family Christmas get-together on Christmas Day. What about you guys?"
"Spending the night at Nana Krupnik's tomorrow," Milton said. "It's two days of crunchy cookies, dry turkey, and rock-hard fruit cake."
"At least you get to leave," Jerry said. "My entire family is staying at our house. Including Pepito. I had to break out the plastic sheets for my bed."
"We're flying out tonight to visit my grandparents in Portland," Eddie said. "And I really need to get going. I haven't even finished packing yet."
"Wait!" Rudy said. "Before you go, I got you all a little something." He disappeared into his office for a moment, then reappeared holding five small wrapped packages.
"Rudy, you shouldn't have…" Kim's voice trailed off as she removed the wrapping and held up the contents.
"…what is it?" Jerry finished for her.
Each packaged contained a glass Christmas ornament that looked like a bumpy green carrot with green stems coming out of the top. A red bow was wrapped around the top.
"They're Christmas ornaments shaped like wasabi roots! You know, because we're the Wasabi Warriors and all…" Rudy frowned at their confused expressions. "You hate them."
"No!" they all exclaimed.
"They're great, Rudy. Really," Kim said. "Thank you."
"Yeah," Eddie agreed. "Great idea, Rudy. We mean it."
"And we all pitched in and got you something, too," Milton added. He nodded at Jack, who reached into his locker and pulled out a wrapped box.
Rudy excitedly ripped of the paper and pulled out a printed coffee mug. "World's Best Sensei? For me?"
"Yeah. We had to special order it," Milton explained. "World's Best Sensei wasn't easy to find."
"Most of the people we talked to didn't even know what it meant," Kim said, rolling her eyes.
"Well, I love it," Rudy said. "You guys are the best." He waved them towards the door. "Now get out of here and enjoy your Christmas vacation. I'll see you next year!"
They said their goodbyes, and the five students walked home together. Each one turned off on their own streets, until only Kim and Jack were left.
"So, you never said what your plans for Christmas were, Jack," Kim said as they walked side by side. School had let out early, and the party at the dojo hadn't lasted very long. It wasn't quite dark outside yet, though the sun hung low in the sky.
"Just staying at home. We're not going anywhere this year," he answered. "I mean, not until a couple of days after Christmas. Then I'll go to Colorado to see my grandpa."
Kim glanced at Jack, who kept his head down and his hands in his pockets as they walked along. Come to think of it, he hadn't said much of anything that afternoon. He went through the motions at the Christmas party, but had never really talked or smiled. He had been pretty quiet at school, too, even though it was the last day and most of the students were wound up and excited.
Before she could ask him what was wrong, Jack changed the subject. "What about you? Got any big plans?"
"My grandma flew in from Tennessee this morning, and my aunt and uncle and my two cousins are coming this afternoon."
"Sounds like a full house," Jack commented.
"Yeah," Kim replied. "I mean, I love seeing them and all, but it can get pretty crowded. I have to sleep in my little sister's room, so Grandma can have my bed."
They came to the intersection of Kim's street, and still he walked with her. "What are you doing?" Kim asked. "Your house is the other way."
"I'll walk you home," he responded.
"You don't have to do that," she said.
He shrugged. "It's no big deal."
Kim frowned. This wasn't like Jack at all. He didn't seem excited about Christmas or the trip to Colorado. In fact, it almost seemed like he didn't want to go home.
"Is everything OK?" she asked him. "You seem kind of down."
"Yeah, everything's fine," he replied, not really sounding like he meant it. "I'm just tired, I guess. Stayed up too late playing video games."
Kim didn't believe him, but they were already to the steps of her house. "Well, thanks for walking me home."
They stood awkwardly for a moment, until Kim reached forward and gave him a quick hug. "Have a good Christmas."
Kim watched from her porch as he walked away. "Jack, wait!"
He turned to look at her as she ran up to him.
"Since you're not going anywhere tomorrow, if you, you know, get bored, feel free to stop by here, if you want…I mean, I'll be here…"
Jack nodded. "Maybe I will. Merry Christmas, Kim."
"Merry Christmas," she said softly to his retreating backside. She watched until she could no longer see him anymore. Then she entered her house, shut the door, and leaned up against it.
Why were things so weird between her and Jack? One minute, they would be talking and laughing and completely comfortable with each other, like they had known each other their whole lives. The next, they would be staring at each other awkwardly and fumbling over their words when they tried to speak. Their relationship had been undefined for so long. Would it ever be resolved, one way or the other?
No other guy made Kim feel as comfortable and safe as Jack did. And no other guy could make her feel so nervous, so out of breath, and so unsure. Was that a sign that they were meant for something more? Or would making a move in the direction of "more than friends" mean the end of one of the strongest and deepest friendships she had ever had?
And on top of all that, something was clearly bothering him. Maybe it's me, Kim thought sadly. But why would he walk her home if she had done something to bother him?
She desperately hoped that he would come by tomorrow. But even if he didn't, she could give him a call, later in the afternoon.
One way or another, she would find out what was bothering Jack.
Jack quietly shut the front door of his house and hung up his jacket in the hall closet. His mother looked up from the sandwich she was making and smiled at him, but the smile didn't reach her eyes.
"Hi, honey. How was your last day?"
"Fine. We didn't do anything."
She gestured to the plate. "I made you a sandwich."
Jack shook his head. "I'm not hungry." Seeing her worried expression, he quickly added, "We had snacks at the dojo."
"OK, well, I've got a few more presents to wrap."
Jack glanced at the phone hanging on the kitchen wall. "Have you heard from Dad?"
His mother shook her head. "No…but I'm sure he will call soon. Definitely by Christmas Day."
Jack nodded. "I'm, uh, going to go up to my room, I guess."
He was halfway up the stairs when his mom called out to him. "Jack? Maybe we could watch a movie later."
"Yeah, maybe." He trudged the rest of the way up the stairs and shut his door.
Lisa Brewer sighed and put her head in her hands. It was killing her, to see her son so unhappy, and at Christmastime, too. This was the first year that her military husband had been away from home during the holiday. Always, no matter where he was stationed, he had been able to be with his family for Christmas. But this year, he had been given a special assignment in Germany for four months. They loved living here in Seaford, and Jack was doing so well with school and karate and his friends. Rather than move for such a short time period, his wife and son had stayed behind in California until he returned to his regular stateside duty. Chris had told her and Jack not to worry; that he would do everything in his power to take his leave during Christmas. But it just hadn't worked out.
This would be her first Christmas without her husband, and Jack's first Christmas without his father. She tried to be strong and cheerful for her son's sake, but it was hard on her, too. And Jack was perceptive enough to pick up on it.
Lisa looked down at the plate in front of her. She picked up the sandwich, hesitated, then put it back down and pushed the plate away.
She wasn't hungry, either.
END PART 1
(Sorry it's short- final chapter will be longer)