FanFic - Other
"Under The Mistletoe"
Part 1
by Courtney
Disclaimer: Not mine unless I get them for Christmas . . . what would you wrap Michael in? *evil grin*
Summary: Christmas at the Crashdown gets a little weird for everyone.
Category: Other
Rating: PG
Authors Note: Distribution: It’ll be on my fanfic page sometime today. If you want to post it on your site then just email me. I’ve said it before; I’m easy. I’ll say yes . Author’s Notes: Response to Pamela’s Christmas challenge on RAC. The requirements were as follows: 1) Must take place in the Crashdown around Christmas. 2) Must include these items somewhere: a) Fruit cake b) Red and green M&Ms c) A present wrapped with the "Comic" section of a newspaper. d) A character wearing a Santa cap. 3) Some one must get caught under the mistletoe, but it has to be an "unconventional" couple. Examples: Max/Maria, Liz/Michael, Isabel/Kyle, Alex/Liz, or heck, even Sheriff Valenti and one of the girls (insert big ewwwwww). 4) Someone has to say a line with this somewhere in it: "...I think I'm gonna be sick..." Dedication: To Pamela of course, for the challenge. I really *needed* another fic to write with all the unfinished one I have floating around. Thanks, lol. But it was Kyle and Is . . . so I couldn’t resist. Thanks for the idea :-)
Isabel Evans walked into the Crashdown Café alongside her brother. It was a few days before Christmas and the place was packed. It seemed Mr. Parker had some kind of holiday thing going on there that evening. There were signs everywhere that spoke of an appearance by Santa Claus and children seemed to be everywhere.

“Maybe this wasn’t such a good place to meet Michael,” Max commented as they sat in their usual booth and he watched Liz standing at a nearby table refilling drinks.

“You can’t avoid her forever,” Isabel said. “Besides, it was Michael’s idea.”

“He just wants to see Maria,” Max replied.

“Well, at least *someone* is happy in their relationship,” Isabel said pointedly.

“It’s weird, that’s all I know,” Max said. “I mean, Michael is always the one in a bad mood who thinks that nothing will ever be right . . . and now he’s the only one of the three of us who can let himself get involved with someone else. And here I am eating dinner with my sister while the girl I want . . . while she walks around in a Santa hat smiling at strangers.”

His puppy-dog expression made Isabel wince. “Can we cut the angst-fest for five minutes please? It’s not like you’re the only one on earth who is alone. As you so kindly pointed out, I am spending my Friday night having dinner with my brother.”

“We’re pathetic,” Max said.

Isabel was about to respond when Maria came bouncing over to the table. “Hey guys! Where’s Michael, is he with you?”

“He should be here soon,” Max told her.

“Cool, I was hoping so. I brought his Christmas present with me to work,” she replied.

“Oh that’s . . . that’s nice, Maria,” Isabel said. Even she was a little surprised at the turn of events with Michael and Maria lately. She’d never seen those two as star-crossed lovebirds material, but there they were making goo-goo eyes at each other every minute of the day. It was rather bizarre and, in her opinion at least, quite unsettling.

“So, you guys ready to order?” Maria asked.

“We ate at home actually so we’re just here for dessert while we wait on Michael,” Isabel replied. “You guys have anything special for the holidays?” she asked.

“Only Ms. Parker’s fruitcake,” she said, then added in a whisper, “I wouldn’t risk it if I were you. Oh, and these Christmas cupcakes that Jose made for the kids. They have red and green M&Ms on them.”

“I’ll just have coffee,” Isabel replied.

“Cherry Coke for me,” Max said as he handed her his menu.

“Okay, coming up,” Maria said. She turned around and headed back to the counter. Liz met her there and watched silently as she filled a coffee cup and then went about getting Max’s cherry Coke. “He’s as miserable as you are,” she said without looking at her friend.

“What?” Liz asked.

“Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about, Lizzie,” Maria said to her friend. “Here,” she handed Liz the Coke and the coffee. “Go say hi.”

“No, I can’t,” Liz shook her head.

“Yes, you can and you will,” Maria insisted. “Now go.”

Liz looked back at her reluctantly, but then nodded and headed over to the table where Max and Isabel waited. “Um, coffee and cherry Coke,” she said as she sat the drinks in front of them. “Maria asked me to bring them over.”

“Uh, thanks,” Max replied.

Isabel looked at them and smiled secretly. “Well, if you’ll both excuse me, I need to freshen my lipstick,” she said and got up from the table, leaving the two alone. She could tell that they needed it. She turned back as she reached the bathroom just in time to see Liz take a seat across from Max and the two began to talk. She smiled again and disappeared into the ladies room.

* * * * *

“Hey beautiful, what’s a guy have to do to get a cup of coffee around here?” Maria heard behind her. Recognizing his voice, she turned around and smiled at Michael.

“Well, a little kissing up to the help wouldn’t hurt,” she replied with a grin as she walked around the counter to stand beside him.

He wrapped his arms around her middle to pull her close and said, “How about I just kiss the help instead?”

“Well, that could work,” she agreed and leaned up as his mouth met hers in a long kiss. “Um, I missed you today,” she said as they parted, his arms still loosely around her waist as hers lay over his shoulders with her hands clasped behind his head. “What did you do all day?”

“Went shopping,” he replied.

“Oh? Shopping?” she asked curiously.

“Yes, I shop,” he said.

“Since when?” she asked with a grin.

“Since it’s Christmas and I wanted to get my girlfriend a present,” he said with a smile.

“Oh, you didn’t have to do that, Michael,” she said, then added, “What did you get me?”

“Well, you’ll just have to wait and see now, won’t you?”

“Aw, come on!” she whined. “It’s only two more days. You can have yours tonight if I can have mine,” she offered.

“Well . . .” Michael seemed to think about this, then smiled and replied, “Okay.”

She squealed with delight and went to fetch his present from the back room. She came back with a beautifully wrapped package that she handed to him. “Merry Christmas, Michael.”

He smiled at her, then looked back at the box. It was almost too nice to open, but he finally tore off the bright blue wrapping paper and opened the box. Inside lay a small cylinder that he recognized as a telescope. He picked it up and turned it over in his hands slowly.

“I thought, you know, maybe you’d like to do some star-gazing sometime. Maybe it would make you feel closer to home or something, I dunno,” she shrugged, then added, “I know, it’s stupid.”

He shook his head quickly. “No, it’s not stupid. It’s . . . it’s great, Maria. I love it. It’s the best gift anyone has ever given me.” She smiled broadly and he smiled back. He leaned forward and kissed her gently on the lips.

“Well,” he said as he set the small telescope beside him on the counter. “My gift doesn’t look nearly as nice as yours did.” He removed a small, rectangular box from his coat pocket and handed it to her. Upon closer examination, she saw that it was wrapped in part of the newspaper, the comic strips to be exactly.

“Dagwood, cute,” she grinned.

He shrugged. “I didn’t have any wrapping paper.”

She grinned and tore the newspaper from the box then took a breath and opened it. Her eyes grew large as she looked down at the gift. “Oh Michael,” she breathed, “It’s beautiful.” She lifted the present from the bed of cotton it rested on. It was a bracelet, a charm bracelet with tiny silver charms dangling from its loops. She looked closely at the charms and saw they were all little stars and moons, one was even a tiny little Saturn with rings wrapped around it.

“I thought maybe you’d like a little piece of the sky to keep with you,” he said softly.

“I love it,” she said softly. “It will always remind me of you.” He smiled softly. That was just want he’d been hoping for. She held out her wrist and he clipped the bracelet around it easily. It fit perfectly. The two of them sat down side by side at the counter and spoke quietly, too wrapped up in each other to notice anything going on around them. They felt like the only ones in the room.

* * * * *

Isabel sat down at an empty table in the far corner of the room and looked around. Max and Liz were still sitting in the booth, but now they were on the same side of the table talking intimately. It was easy to see that they had somehow worked through their problems and were now happily back together.

Michael and Maria were sitting nearly in one another’s laps at the counter, exchanging kisses and deep, longing stares as they completely blocked out everything going on around them.

Isabel sighed and rested her chin on her hands as she leaned her elbows on the empty table in front of her. Santa had arrived so all the children were over on the other side of the restaurant buzzing happily around him as he handed out small gifts and had pictures taken with the kids in his lap. They all seemed so full of life . . . Isabel wished that she felt the same way.

She turned back to her now cold coffee and ran her hand over it to reheat it. Taking a sip, she realized that even warm the coffee was terrible. Since the Crashdown waitresses seemed otherwise occupied, she rose from her seat to get a refill herself. As she was pouring the coffee, she noticed Santa Claus getting up. She heard Mr. Parker telling the kids that Santa had to leave and watched the kids hugging the legs of the man in the red suit that looked a good four sizes too big. She turned and walked back to her seat as the Santa collected his things and got ready to leave.

Most of the kids had gone by the time she was sitting back down again and the café seemed suddenly empty. She stared around at the two couples who were still oblivious to her existence and looked down to mumble into her coffee, “I think I’m gonna be sick.”

“Can Santa cheer you up?” she heard a voice ask.

She looked up to see the red-suited man standing beside her. When he removed his beard, she gaped in astonishment at the familiar face. “Kyle?” she said in disbelief.

“Well, my dad was supposed to do this but he had some work that couldn’t wait so he talked me into doing it for him,” he explained. “Mind if I sit down?” he asked.

She shrugged. “It’s a free country.”

He looked around the café, then back to her. “I hate being alone at Christmas. It’s so depressing,” he said.

She looked at him quizzically. Why was he sitting here talking to her about this? She barely knew Kyle Valenti, and what she did know made her not to want to know much more. He was the enemy, the one she needed to watch out for most . . . wasn’t he?

“You’re wondering why I came to sit with you I guess,” he said and she wondered if he could read her mind.

“The thought crossed my mind,” she admitted.

“Well, you didn’t look any happier than I felt so I thought what the hell. Maybe we can be miserable together for a while until my hamburger is done at least.”

“I’m just fine, Kyle,” she assured him and then got up to leave. He looked after her for a second, then got up and followed her, catching up with her just as she reached the front door.

He grabbed her arm to stop her. “Wait, Isabel,” he said. “Let me go, Kyle,” she said. He released her arm but held her with his gaze. She stayed where she was, looking back at him and unable to turn away for some reason.

“What is it that you want?” she asked then.

“I just want . . . I don’t know. I mean, Isabel, aren’t you lonely? Don’t you hate watching everyone you know get to be happy while you sit back and spectate? Wouldn’t it be nice to have that with someone . . . with anyone?” he asked. There was a strange, pleading look in his eyes that seemed out of character from the insensitive jock she’d always known him to be. She thought for just a second that maybe she had misjudged Kyle; maybe he wasn’t the jerk she had assumed. But she didn’t let that thought stay with her long. She pushed it away as she steeled herself against him.

“I have to go, Kyle,” she said as she tried to keep the icy tone to her voice.

He looked up then and she followed his gaze despite herself. “We’re under the mistletoe,” he said in a rough whisper.

“I can see that,” she replied in an even voice that tried to maintain calm, even as she felt her body filling with a tension she couldn’t quite blame on fear or anger but which was something else all together.

“You know that when you’re under the mistletoe, you’re supposed to kiss the person under it with you,” he said.

She looked back at him and replied, “I’m aware of the tradition.”

“So?” he asked, his eyes still fixed on her face.

She looked around the café. Everyone seemed to be wrapped up in their own little worlds and completely oblivious to the two standing at the door. She looked back at Kyle and shrugged. When he leaned towards her, she held her breath until his lips were pressed to hers. The kiss was brief and she felt herself feeling sorry when it had to end.

“Merry Christmas, Isabel,” he said softly as he looked down at her again.

“Yeah, um . . . Merry Christmas,” she replied. She turned then to go and walked about twenty feet from the door before she turned to look back. Kyle still stood at the café window looking after her. She smiled softly and raised her hand to wave and he waved back.

“This is the most bizarre Christmas ever,” she mumbled to herself and shook her head. As she walked down the sidewalk towards home, though, she was smiling.

* * * * *

The End

December 19, 1999

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