~The Perfect Christmas Present~

~Another Special BATB Christmas One-Shot~

~Keiko Fujiwara~

As I finished getting ready for bed, I felt a cool draft blowing from the window. While slipping on my bathrobe, I walked towards the window and smiled as I looked to my right. "What brings you here at this hour?"

"I needed some fresh air so I thought I'd stop by."

I silently laughed at his reply before joining him on the fire escape. "Heather should be in bed by now so she shouldn't hear us talking."

"How was work?" Vincent asked.

"We caught the perp. Ballistics matched with the gun in her possession; not to mention we found gunpowder on her clothes from Thursday night." I replied. "After a long day of interrogation, she finally confessed."

"And you thought my hunch was wrong." He smirked.

"No, that's not it, Vincent." I stated. "I just couldn't find anything definitive to charge her with. Luckily, after a long day of investigation, we found a witness able to claim Sutton Patterson at the scene of the crime."

"So you say." He answered in a playful voice. "Anyways, I know this is sudden but, do you have plans for Christmas?"

"As far as I know? I don't. I'll probably do a little thing with Heather in the morning before she goes off to see some of her friends. Let's just say, Heather and I spend Christmas very differently." I laughed.

"If you want to, after your little get-together with your sister, you can stop by the warehouse for a Christmas mini party." Vincent said, catching me by surprise.

"I didn't know you celebrate Christmas…you know, with the whole dead issue and all."

"Normally I don't but JT does. Most years he goes and sees his family in New Jersey but this year, he randomly decided to stay. Christmas between two guy roommates is almost never entertaining so I was wondering if you wanted to intervene and liven up the party a bit."

"Does JT know you're inviting me?"

"No…He'll get over it though." Vincent lightly chuckled. "Hey, it's pretty cold out here. You wanna go inside?"

He must have noticed I was slightly shivering. "Sure…as long as we're quiet."

I slipped back in to my room and Vincent followed. He closed the window to prevent any more cool air from conditioning my room. Luckily the room wasn't too drafty. We sat on the end of my bed and continued our little conversation.

"What time?" I asked.

"8 PM?"

"Sounds like a plan." I replied. "Do you want me to bring anything?"

"Nah…we're just having a simple pizza. You okay with that?"

"Pizza sounds great."

For a moment, we were lost in each other's eyes. I couldn't help but gaze into his deep, mysterious brown eyes and I could tell he couldn't tear from mine either.

Suddenly, Heather shouted, "CAAAAAT!"

I immediately ripped my eyes from Vincent's as he stood up in alarm. "Stay here." I whispered before making my way to my sister's room. "What is it, Heather?"

"Do you have any more tampons? I'm all out and I know you're red train hasn't finished leaving the station but I like seriously need some right now." She stated as she showed me an empty box of tampons.

"Yeah…I'll be back."

"Thanks, Sis! I'll be sure to buy you a new box tomorrow after work." Heather sang. I guess she's not in bed yet.

I embarrassingly walked into my room without looking at Vincent. I could tell he was enjoying this slight humiliation of mine but that doesn't mean I have to witness his amusement. I quickly grabbed five or so tampons from my box and stuffed them in my robe pocket before making my way to Heather.

"Here. Enjoy." I said as I tossed them on your bed. "I'm going to bed now so please, no more yelling. Alright?"

"Roger!" Heather saluted at me as I exited her room.

"Red train?" Vincent smirked as I walked in.

"You are not to repeat that, you hear me?" I said with a warning tone. How humiliating?! Not only did Heather just shout to Vincent that I'm still on my period but he's actually making fun of it! The nerve!

"I don't know why you're getting your heart all worked up, Catherine. Whether or not Heather said anything about a red train, I still knew you were on your period. Besides, I was a doctor. I'm used to hearing awkward female talk." He stated as I took a seat next to him.

"H-how did you know?" I asked, fearing his answer.

"Strong sense of smell, remember? When a woman goes through her monthly cycle, her scent slightly changes. That's how I know."

"Well…this is embarrassing." I could feel my cheeks flame up. "We are not discussing this."

"You're the one who asked, Catherine." Vincent smirked. "Anyways, do you have plans for tomorrow night—Christmas Eve?"

"Yeah…stupid work party I have to go to. I'm not really looking forward to it." I said.

"Why not?"

"Because…I'm supposed to bring a date…and…since my guy of choice can't make appearances to the public eye, I'll most likely be going with Evan if he doesn't already have a date."

"Your coworker?"

"Yeah…We've always gone together in the past as friends but since…since my birthday….things have been a little awkward between us. It's clear he wants more than just a flirtatious friendship but I'm not interested. So….yeah….it's going to be awkward."

"Have you made your feelings clear to him?" Vincent asked, his eyes starting to glow.

I put my hand on his arm to calm him and said, "Yeah…but sometimes words aren't enough. Evan is a very stubborn man, so even if I let him down easy, he won't give up."

"W-what if I go?" Vincent stammered.

"What?!" I exclaimed.

Vincent hushed me and whispered, "No one should know who I am so why don't I go?"

"Vincent, as much as I wish that was possible, it can't happen. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if something happened to you just because of a stupid work party. Besides, my precinct does know your face. Remember the Ashley Webber case?"

"Oh. Right." He replied, a little bummed.

"But that doesn't mean we can't have fun on Christmas night, Vincent." I smiled. "I'll be fine going with Evan. Sure, it'll be awkward but I can handle it."

"Well, if you change your mind about this work party, let me know."

"No worries. I will."

After about another hour of simple conversation, Vincent finally left—saying he needed to get home before JT has a heart attack.

I waved as he jumped off of the fire escape and smiled. Christmas night with Vincent and JT….That'll sure be interesting.

~BEAUTY AND THE BEAST~

Christmas Eve is always one of the busiest days of the year. Sure, there might not be a lot of crime out in the world but Joe makes us come anyway so he doesn't have to do the Christmas decorations himself. He calls it multi-tasking. We decorate the precinct as well as answer any phone calls.

Work was a long day. Joe let us off early so we could get ready for the party. As I made my way to my car, Evan caught up to me. "I forgot to tell you, Cat. I have a date for the party tonight."

"You do? Who with?" I asked, not really caring I'll be showing up at the party alone.

"Remember Clara? She wanted to try things again so I thought we could go to the party together. That's not going to bother you, is it?"

"Of course not! You have fun with Clara!" I smiled. I'll just show up alone—like I did for most of my father's wedding.

I hurried home because I only had one hour to get ready. I tossed off my clothes and threw on a slender, strapless forest green dress. As I placed my earrings in, I saw Vincent's reflection in the mirror in front of me.

"Hey." He said.

"Hey…How did JT take the news?" I asked.

"Not well at first but, after drinking two beers, he finally approved." He replied. Suddenly, my phone started ringing.

I pulled it out of my robe pocket and pressed the TALK button. "Hello?"

"Oh good. You answered."

"Dad? Is something wrong?"

"No. Nothing is wrong. I talked to Heather earlier today and since she's busy with work at the current moment, she wanted me to call you and tell you to not make plans for Christmas Day. We are all meeting here, at my house, and will spend the day together."

I stood in silent, mentally cursing. "How long?"

"Well, Heather said you two will be arriving around 9 in the morning and will be staying to around midnight. So I'll see you tomorrow." Dad said before hanging up. He didn't even ask! He just assumed I didn't have plans!

"Looks like your plans changed after all." Vincent said in a somewhat hurt voice.

"Vincent, I had no idea my sister would make plans behind my back." I replied.

"It's alright. You don't have to explain yourself. I understand."

"Vincent, I would rather spend a thousand Christmases with you than spend it with my family." I said, caressing his cheek.

He pulled away and said, "Catherine, you only have one family in your entire lifetime. Go spend Christmas with them because you never know what could happen."

"I—" I could tell he was bothered that I wouldn't be able to go to his and JT's little party but what could I say?

"It's alright. You have fun with your family." He stated before standing up. "I better go…you have a party to get to. Wouldn't want to keep you from your date."

"I don't have a date." I said. He gave me a confused look. "Evan is bringing someone else—the woman he brought to my birthday party. Looks like I'll be going solo this year." I sort of laughed to ease the tension.

"I could still go if you want me to. I'll try to keep a low profile."

"Vincent, I can't let you do that for me. It is just one stupid work party anyways. Why bring a date when I know I won't have fun anyways? It's only six hours long. I think I'll manage."

"….okay." he muttered. "I should go."

"Bye…" I waved.

"Bye." He stated before leaving me to finish getting ready for this party.

~BEAUTY AND THE BEAST~

As the Christmas music blasted throughout the precinct, I sat with my head leaning against my fist as I watched the other couples dance. Suddenly, Tess took a seat beside me and said, "You seriously need a drink, Cat. You look like the walking dead."

"I'm just bored. That's all."

"Well, just because your date didn't show doesn't mean you can't have fun. This guy must be a real dick for ditching you at the wedding as well as tonight."

"It's okay, Tess. He's not doing it on purpose. In fact, I was the one who told him to not come."

"Why…you don't want him to meet me?" she asked with a playful smile.

"That's not it. I just…we have a complicated relationship. That's all." I replied.

"Oh. Well, you should still join the fun. If you look any more miserable, I may have to get my umbrella from my car because it sure looks like you're gonna make it rain on our parade."

"Just not feeling the Christmas spirit, this year." I replied as Evan and Clare walked over here.

"You know, Cat, you still owe me a dance. Remember?" Evan smiled as he offered his hand.

At first, I thought about declining his offer but then, I realized it would seem very rude, so, out of desperation, I took his hand and he led me to the makeshift precinct dance floor.

As we made our way to the center of the crowded people, Josh Groban's I'll Be Home for Christmas started playing. Great…a slow song…just what I need.

"You know," Evan started, "You never told me what happened the night of your shooting. Who was that guy who brought you to my car?"

"I guess he was just some Good Samaritan." I replied, hoping that would be the end of the discussion.

"Cat, there were no other cars within the vicinity of the wreck aside from mine. That man, he clung onto you as if you were his life force. He obviously knows you."

"Evan, I really don't want to talk about that night. In all honesty, everything is all a blur. I don't even recall being saved by a man. All I remember is being shot and then waking up in the hospital. That's all. Can we drop it?"

He hesitated but nodded his head. "Alright. You won't hear about it from me any further tonight."

That just means it is a conversation for later. Just lovely.

I tried to elude his gaze but he caught my avoidance and said, "Ever since your birthday, you've been very…avoiding. Why is that?"

"I think you know why, Evan." I said.

"So…you're telling me that you're avoiding my gaze because of a silly kiss?" he seemed disappointed.

"Evan, I can't make this anymore clearer but I don't have those kinds of feelings for you."

"So…what was with all of the nonstop flirting for the past six years? Was it all a whim for you?"

"At once in my life, I thought about dating you but I've met someone else and I'm happy with him." I said firmly.

"You mean Mr. No-Show?"

I kept silent. I didn't want to say anything I'd regret later.

"I thought you said he didn't exist?"

"I only said that so my sister and the other bridesmaids would stop getting on my back about him not showing up. He had good reasons for missing the wedding and he has good reasons for missing the party tonight. Trust me, Evan."

"This wouldn't be Vincent Zalanski now would it?"

"Same guy but his name is different. I just made the name up so no one would seek him out. He lives a very secret life and likes to keep it that way."

Suddenly, the song ended and so did our dance. I looked at my watch. 11:45 PM. "Thanks for the dance and all but I've gotta go."

Before anyone else could talk to me, I disappeared from the party—wanting only to go home and sleep in my warm bed.

~BEAUTY AND THE BEAST~

"Merry Christmas!" Heather exclaimed as she literally started jumping on my bed like a five year old.

I stretched my arms as I yawned and replied, "Merry Christmas to you too, Heather."

"Dad forgot to tell you something about today."

"What?"

"The dress code is formalwear." Heather replied as she jumped off my bed.

"What sort of Christmas dinner is he planning? It's Christmas—I should want to show up in my pajamas rather than a formal dress."

"Sorry, Cat. Dad's words, not mine." Heather replied before racing back to her room to get ready. I slipped out of my bed and opened my closet. I guess I could wear this long, bright red dress.

We left the apartment complex about an hour later only to find out that this was more than just a simple family dinner—it was a house filled with strangers.

"Ummmmm…Dad?" I whispered to him. "Who are these people?"

"They're apart of Brooke's family. Don't you recognize them from the wedding?"

"Oh…Right." I replied as Heather grabbed my arm and pulled me to the kitchen.

"Look, Cat, I know you don't converse well with strangers but DO NOT ruin this day for Dad and Brooke. This is their first Christmas dinner together as husband and wife and we DO NOT want to mess that up. Got that?"

"Don't worry, Heather. I got the message." I replied, rolling my eyes. This is going to be a long Christmas day.

Presents were unwrapped and food was completely eaten by 11 PM. Most of my presents were gift cards because like Heather, Dad and Brooke had a hard time buying things for me. Similar to the party, I didn't really talk with the other guests. I just watched everyone else drink and be merry.

"Why is it you look like you're about to scrape your head with a cheese grater?" Brooke suddenly asked.

"Oh….um….is it that noticeable?"

"You're pretty much wearing a large neon sign over your head that is screaming how bored you are. Why haven't you spoken with any of the young men in the room?"

"I just…I already have someone in my life…I'd rather be spending Christmas with him, I guess."

"Then why in the hell aren't you over there?" Brooke asked, catching me off-guard.

"He told me to come here…You see, he doesn't really have a family to spend Christmas with…he lost his family ten years ago to a car crash." I lied. "He told me that family is important and that I should spend it with you guys because I'll never know what'll happen."

"Catherine, I know relationships aren't easy. Believe me. But, you've spent Christmas every year with your family, am I correct?"

"Yes."

"Okay so you should be spending Christmas with this special guy, Catherine. Like you said, you never know what'll happen. For all you know, this may be the only Christmas you two would be able to share together."

"I realize that but…"

"But what? You're afraid things won't work out?"

"No…That's not it."

"Then what is it?"

"…I guess I'm just worried about what'll happen if I spent Christmas with him. I haven't had a decent relationship before and well, as of right now, he's the best thing that has ever happened to me. I just…I don't want any Christmas to end up like the year my mother died—that's why I came here rather than go there. Sure, he told me to come here but I could have chosen otherwise. I didn't. I just…I don't even know what we are to each other."

"Catherine, you're making excuses. You need to follow your own advice and take a risk. So what if he's not in the picture next Christmas! You never know, maybe this time next year, you two'll be hearing wedding bells."

I laughed at her remark, knowing that a married life with Vincent would almost be impossible—especially because he's "dead."

"There's only forty-five minutes left, Brooke. I'll just have to wait until New Year's or something."

"Suit yourself." Brooke said. "It was nice chatting with you, Catherine but I've gotta go back and treat the other guests."

I smiled as she left. Who would have thought that Brooke would be great at heart to heart conversations? Certainly not me.

Suddenly, a blonde-haired man walked over to me and smiled, "You look like a lost puppy. Care to dance?"

"Sorry…not in the dancing mood." I replied.

"Hi…my name is Josh…Josh Williams."

"Catherine…Catherine Chandler."

"You know, out of all of the women here tonight, you have to be the loveliest I've seen." He smiled.

Great. Another player. Just what I need in my life.

"Thanks…" I said as I looked at my watch. 11:20 PM.

"Need to go somewhere?" Josh asked.

His words rang in my ear and I said, "Actually…Yes I do. I'm sorry. It was nice to meet you but there's somewhere I should be right now."

I rushed to Heather and said, "Do you mind spending the night here? I need to go somewhere."

"I don't mind but where are you going?" she asked.

"Not important. Tell Dad and Brooke I said thanks for the presents and the evening and that I was sorry I had to go."

"O-okay. Drive safe, Cat."

"Don't worry. There isn't a murderous bitch after me this time." I smirked before running out the door.

As I hurried to my car, I noticed snow falling to the ground. I shivered a little but I didn't care. I had a mission and I was going to complete it no matter what.

With only fifteen minutes of Christmas left to spare, I banged on the warehouse's door.

"Vincent! It's me! Open up!"

I continued pounding until the door swung open, causing me to lose my balance a little.

"C-Catherine? I thought you were at your party." He said, completely shocked as I walked into the building. He closed the door and locked it before we made our way up the stairs.

"I realized that going to the dinner…which actually was more of a party…was a big mistake." I replied as we walked into his homey level of the warehouse. I noticed JT in the corner playing with a fishing pole. He must have gotten it for Christmas.

"Catherine—this isn't the life for you." Vincent replied, even though I knew his words tasted like poison to him.

"Vincent," I whispered as I cupped his face, "Every relationship has risks. I know that. I had a talk with Brook—my new step-thing…I mean, step-mother, and I was coming up with every excuse not to be here tonight. She told me to stop with the excuses and start to take a risk."

"I can't let you d—"

"This is my life, Vincent. It is my life and I choose you." I smiled as tears threatened to fall from my eyes.

"Catherine, I don't even have a gift for you."

I laughed at his goofy response but then said, "I don't need one, Vincent. I already have the perfect gift anyone could ask for."

He looked at me with a confused look. Men…

"Vincent, the only present I wanted for Christmas was to spend it with you. That's all I could ever ask for from you. I don't need materialized things to prove how much I care for you—how much I'm in love with you."

He stared at me in complete awe as if his brains were sucked out by a zombie. "Y-you l-love me?"

"Vincent, I love everything about you and I wouldn't want to change a single thing."

Suddenly, we looked up and saw a mistletoe hanging above our heads by a fishing line. Vincent gave JT a look and JT waved his hands in the air.

"What?! It's about time you two stopped talking. I figured that if you two weren't going to kiss on your own, someone had to intervene." JT said with a smirk.

Vincent turned back around and faced me. He brushed a strand of hair away from my face and whispered, "You look beautiful tonight."

I blushed and muttered a thank you before I heard him utter, "I love you too."

With that, I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled him in for a kiss. As the kiss deepened, so did our want for each other. I don't know where this "side" of me came from but my fingers started playing with his hair as my legs wrapped around his waist.

"You can thank me later." JT hollered.

Vincent loosened his firm grip around my body and flicked JT off with both his middle fingers. I lightly chuckled at his response but did not stop hungrily fusing our lips together.

JT left the room and I could feel Vincent slowly walking us over to his bed. Brooke was right. Why worry about the past and the future when all I should really care about is what's happening in front of me. I never thought I'd ever cross this road again but the risk was incredibly worth taking. That's for sure.

Keiko Fujiwara:

I loved writing this! X3

It was cute and fun at the same time! I tried not to rush this one but who knows, maybe I did. It IS 2:45 AM.

Well, hope everyone had a great holiday!